To our friends on their day . . .

Jason & Jordaan,

May your wedding day, and your lives together from this day forth, be everything that you had hoped and planned them to be.



The DE/VLs


The Quest for the Dark Tower Pt. 13: The World Trade Center

***Spoiler warning! Though I've made every attempt to avoid giving away key plot points during this quest, it's still very possible that information discussed herein may spoil a new reader's experience, so consider yourself warned! ***

When Jake and Pere Callahan arrive in Midtown New York of 1999, they quickly track Susannah to The New York Plaza-Park Hyatt.

Finding a key left for Jake at the front desk by the most unlikeliest of sources, they eventually discover that although Susannah has left, Black Thirteen is still stowed away in the room's security safe. Taking the powerful talisman, they soon decide to store it in a more secure location.

After grabbing a cab south, Jake and Pere decide Black Thirteen should be kept in what Pere was once told were the safest storage lockers in all of Manhattan: The World Trade Center. Once there, they lock the evil talisman in a long term storage locker and feed enough tokens into it to keep it tucked away until June of 2002 . . .

Long days, pleasant nights!



The Quest for the Dark Tower Pt. 12: The New York Plaza-Park Hyatt

***Spoiler warning! Though I've made every attempt to avoid giving away key plot points during this quest, it's still very possible that information discussed herein may spoil a new reader's experience, so consider yourself warned! ***

In book six of Stephen King's Dark Tower series, Susannah travels to Midtown New York in the spring of 1999 using the Unfound Door, a magic portal that can only be opened with the crystal ball or Bend O' the Rainbow known as Black Thirteen. Once there, she finds a scrimshaw carving of a turtle in a hidden pocket of the drawstring bowling bag being used to carry Black Thirteen.

Holding the scrimshaw turtle, Susannah inadvertently mesmerizes an unsuspecting passerby. Needing a place to clean up and regain her bearings, she uses the turtle's suggestive power to convince a UN ambassador's aide to book her a room at the the New York Plaza-Park Hyatt, located on 46th Street and First Avenue.

As Susannah enters the lobby of the the hotel she thinks that, aside from St. Patrick's Cathedral, she had never seen such a beautiful room.

Walking up to the front desk, Susannah notices a sign stating:


In fact, in our own where and when, the New York Plaza-Park Hyatt has since been renamed the Millennium U.N. Plaza Hotel and isn't located on 46th street, but on 44th.

At the front desk Susannah once again relies on the hypnotic power of the turtle - or sköldpadda - to convince the clerk on duty of her identity. Holding up one of her Oriza throwing plates, she convinces the woman behind the counter that it is her driver's license. Once she's checked in and has her room key, Susannah quickly takes the elevator up to her room.

In the book, Susannah's room is said to be on the nineteenth floor, but in reality the hotel's rooms don't even begin until the thirtieth floor. So the view we had out our hotel room window was a bit higher up than what Susannah would have seen, but it still offered a fantastic view of all the buildings in and around the Turtle Bay area.

That includes the Trump World Tower, which while not part of the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, is right next to it and may have been Sai King's inspiration for the 99-storey tower that 2 Dag Hammarskjold Plaza is described as in Book VII.

Aside from the spectacular view, the room itself was also very nice. I highly recommend the Millennium U.N. Plaza Hotel to anyone who would be staying in New York, whether they are Dark Tower fans looking to experience a little bit of the quest or just New York bound and looking for that perfect place to stay in Manhattan.

Long days, pleasant nights!



The Quest for the Dark Tower Pt. 11: The Doors of Fifth Avenue

***Spoiler warning! Though I've made every attempt to avoid giving away key plot points during this quest, it's still very possible that information discussed herein may spoil a new reader's experience, so consider yourself warned! ***

Before I begin this week's leg of the quest, I thought I'd just mention that these chapters of mine are based on personal photos, memorabilia and experiences while researching many of the different aspects of Stephen King's Dark Tower series, so there are times when I skip over large portions of the story. For those looking for a more linear experience detailing Roland's quest without needing to read the books themselves, I highly recommend Suzanne Johnson's A Read of the Dark Tower on Tor.com.

The weekly feature is a chapter by chapter breakdown of the entire DT series . . . but be warned, it is an extremely long journey. After ten months, Ms. Johnson's weekly coverage has only brought her to about three quarters of the way through The Waste Lands, meaning that it will likely be another two to three years before the entire read-through is complete, especially once the new book, The Wind Through The Keyhole is added into the mix. Nevertheless, it's very insightful and any reader of the series would benefit greatly by following along.

And with that said, now back to my own quest for the Dark Tower:

At the beginning of Book VI: Song of Susannah, Jake is called upon to use his unique ability, known among gunslingers as "the touch," to open yet another mystical door between worlds. As Jake tries to open the Unfound Door with nothing other than his mind and the help of the mystic folk known as the Manni and their Branni Bob, he tries visualizing doors of all kinds. All the doors he was obsessed with when he was trying to get back to Mid-World, bedroom doors, bathroom doors, kitchen doors, closet doors, cloakroom doors . . . even the Robert Heinlein book The Door Into Summer.

As Jake concentrates harder he envisions all the doors on both sides of Fifth Avenue between Forty-eighth and Sixtieth opening all at once . . .



Bergdorf Goodman!


The Sherry Netherland Hotel!

Jake sees thousands of doors along an endless hallway which he instantly knows to be in the Pentagon and imagines them all swinging open, creating a hurricane draft. Then suddenly the Unfound Door opens to New York in 1999 and sweeps both Jake, Oy and the fallen priest, Pere Callahan into it before closing quickly, reopening on another time and place and yanking Eddie and Roland in . . .

Long days, pleasant nights!



Tombstone Tuesday!

Headstone monument from Victoria Lawn Cemetery in St. Catharines.

Stay Tombed!



The Quest for the Dark Tower - Reshuffle: The Songs of Roland - Part 2

***Spoiler warning! Though I've made every attempt to avoid giving away key plot points during this quest, it's still very possible that information discussed herein may spoil a new reader's experience, so consider yourself warned! ***

This entry covers Books V-VII, Part I (covering books I-IV) was posted in a previous entry.

There are a lot of songs on this list, and I'm sure I've missed a few, so if there's anything missing, or if any of the links turn out to be broken, please feel free to mention it. This list wouldn't be nearly as complete as it is if not for several playlists that had been posted on the now defunct web community, www.TheDarkTower.net, so I'd like to take moment to say thanks to those good folks for sharing and helping to enrich so many readers' listening experience.

I've included links to Youtube (or other sources, on those rare occasions when Youtube came up dry) and page numbers to the hardcover trade editions for easy reference. In several cases, I've included some commentary notes (for example, where a band or singer is mentioned, I've tried to include the song that best suits the situation, or vice versa). Some song references have been mentioned repeatedly, so for simplicity's sake, I've only included the first page where a song is made reference to.

Dark Tower V: The Wolves of the Calla

- New York Groove – Hello (pg. 48)

- Kansas City Blues – Jim Jackson (pg. 49)

- 19th Nervous Breakdown - The Rolling Stones (pg. 179)

- Maid of Constant Sorrow - Joan Baez (pg. 228)

- Walk On The Wild Side - Lou Reed (pg. 276)

- Someone Saved My Life Tonight - Elton John (pg. 277)

- M-O-T-H-E-R (A Word That Means the World to Me) - Howard Johnson/Theodore Morse (pg. 428) - "Put them all together . . ."

- A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall - Bob Dylan (pg. 435)

- I Can’t Go For That - Hall & Oates (pg. 463)

- I Need A Hero - Bonnie Tyler (pg. 503) - "Holding out for a hero . . ."

- Summer in the City - Lovin' Spoonful (pg. 514)

- In the Summertime - Mungo Jerry (pg. 515)

- Follow the Pied Piper - Crispian St. Peters (pg. 593)

Dark Tower VI: Song of Susannah

- The Court Of The Crimson King – King Crimson (pg. 13)

- Night and Day - Fred Astaire (pg.91)

- Stormy Weather – Ethel Waters (pg.95)

- Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again - Bob Dylan (pg. 139) - "And here I sit so patiently waiting to find out what price you have to pay to get out of going through all these things twice"

- Visions of Johanna - Bob Dylan (pg. 153)

- Pinhead - The Ramones (pg. 274) - "Gabba-Gabba-Hey!"

- Bad Man’s Blunder – The Kingston Trio - "Ninety-nine years on the hard rockpile." (pg. 289)

- The Wreck of the Old '97 - Johnny Cash (pg. 289) - Sai King mistakes this song as

- The Wreck of the Hesperus – Procol Harum (pg. 289)

- 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall - Trad. (pg. 289)

- That'll Be The Day - Buddy Holly (pg. 290)

- Walking Through My Dreams - Big Bopper (pg. 290)

- Come On, Let's Go - Ritchie Valens (pg. 290)

- Hang on Sloopy - The McCoys (pg. 302)

- This Time - Troy Shondell (pg. 303)

- Pop Goes the Weasel - Trad. (pg. 328) - "Round and round the mulberry bush . . ."

- Man of Constant Sorrow - Ralph Stanley (pg. 339)

- I Shall Be Released - Traditional (pg. 353)

- Blowin in the Wind - Joan Baez & Bob Dylan (pg. 353)

- Hesitation Blues - Reverend Gary Davis (pg. 353)

- I Ain’t Marching Anymore – Phil Ochs (pg. 353)

- Alfie – Burt Bacharach & Nancy Wilson (pg. 404)

Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower

- Bad Company – Bad Company (pg. i)

- Hurt - Johnny Cash (pg. i)

- Moonlight Becomes You - Frank Sinatra (pg. 7)

- I left My Heart in San Francisco - Tony Bennett (pg. 7)

- The Lion Sleeps Tonight - The Tokens (pg. 81) "Wimeweh . . ."

- Good Golly Miss Molly - Little Richard (pg.77)

- Harrigan - George M. Cohan (pg. 90) - "H-A-double R-I; Harrigan, that's me!"

- Roll Tide - University of Alabama Fight Song (pg. 95) - "Go wide, go wide, roll you Tide, we don't run and we don't hide, we're the 'Bama Crimson Tide!"

- Walk Like A Man - Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons (pg. 96)

- Funny How Time Slips Away - Wanda Jackson (pg. 96)

- Ya Ya - Lee Dorsey (pg. 96)

- Yankee Doodle Boy - James Cagney (pg. 97)

- Who Threw The Overalls In Mrs. Murphy’s Chowder? – Edward M. Favor (pg. 167)

- Nowhere to Run - Martha and the Vandellas (pg. 227)

- Drive My Car - The Beatles (pg. 317)

- That’s Amore - Dean Martin (pg. 351)

- Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen (pg. 404)

- I’m Late - Bill Thompson (pg. 432)

- Hey Nineteen - Steely Dan (pg. 434)

- Crazy Train - Ozzy Osbourne (pg. 444)

- Amazing Grace - Trad. (pg. 478)

- Rockin’ in the Free World - Neil Young (pg. 600)

- Wild Blue Yonder - Air Force Anthem (pg. 603)

- What Child Is This? - Trad. (pg. 645)

- California Sun - The Rivieras (pg. 707)

- Sugar Shack - Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs (pg. 716)

- Heat Wave - Martha and the Vandellas (pg. 716)

- She Loves You - The Beatles (pg. 716)

- Silent Night - Trad. (pg. 724)

- Come Go With Me - The Del-Vikings (pg. 728)

Long days, pleasant nights!



Tombstone Tuesday - The Cemetery Gates Pt. 3

The gates and fountain at Los Angeles' Hollywood Forever Cemetery in California.

Stay Tombed!



The Quest for the Dark Tower Pt. 10: The Vacant Lot - Part II

***Spoiler warning! Though I've made every attempt to avoid giving away key plot points during this quest, it's still very possible that information discussed herein may spoil a new reader's experience, so consider yourself warned! ***

Not long after surviving a deadly riddling contest with an artificially intelligent runaway train, Eddie Dean has another dream about the vacant lot at Forty-sixth Street and Second Avenue. In his dream, he is standing with the rest of the ka-tet, Susannah, Roland and Jake (who is holding his billy-bumbler companion, Oy) in front of the weedy, trash-littered corner lot. This time though, the short board fence is sporting very different handbills.

The first that Eddie sees is a poster for a reunion tour of The Sex Pistols. Eddie scoffs at the notion of this, thinking that The Sex Pistols is one band that would never get back together. In truth, despite bassist Sid Vicious' death in 1979, the band did reunite in 1996 and tour, a fact that would be lost on Eddie since he was pulled out of 1987 when Roland recruited him for his quest to the Dark Tower.

The second poster Eddie sees is an advertisement for Adam Sandler, a comedian that Eddie has never heard of. This is further evidence that the scene before his eyes is from (what he would consider to be) the future.

The last poster that Eddie spies is for a movie about teen witches called The Craft. This is most interesting because one of the stars of this movie, Fairuza Balk, made her film debut years earlier as Dorothy Gale in the 1985 Disney movie Return To Oz (both witches and Oz have a very large part to do with the story before the end of Wizard and Glass).

Beyond these posters is another graffiti message:

See the BEAR of fearsome size!
All the WORLD'S within his eyes.
TIME grows thin, the past's a riddle;
The TOWER awaits you in the middle.

Looking past the fence, the ka-tet admires the rose growing in the vacant lot before noticing the sign indicating the luxury condos scheduled to be built on this spot. Jake assures them that the sign has been there for some time and that the construction is not likely to happen. Just then, a large red bulldozer, with the words All Hail The Crimson King slashed across the front blade in bright yellow, begins tearing across the lot towards the rose.

At first, the bulldozer is being driven by Gasher, a diseased gang member who had kidnapped Jake as they were traveling through the near dead city of Lud. After a second glance, the driver appears to be Engineer Bob, the fictional character from the children's book, Charlie the Choo Choo. As the bulldozer bears down on the rose, the ka-tet helpless to save it, Eddie realizes just before waking that the man behind the controls of the bulldozer is none other than Roland . . .

Long days, pleasant nights!



Tombstone Tuesday - The Cemetery Gates Pt. 2

The gates of St. Catharines' Victoria Lawn Cemetery.

Stay Tombed!



The Quest for the Dark Tower Pt. 9: Charlie The Choo Choo

***Spoiler warning! Though I've made every attempt to avoid giving away key plot points during this quest, it's still very possible that information discussed herein may spoil a new reader's experience, so consider yourself warned! ***

When Jake arrives home after his discovery at the vacant lot, he's confronted by his parents who are furious over his leaving school early, but he dodges their frantic questioning and quickly heads to his room.

Once there, Mrs. Greta Shaw brings him a sandwich and the dreaded Final English Comp. essay that had prompted Jake's fleeing The Piper School. Attached is a note from his French teacher expressing support during Final Exams week and Jake is suddenly overcome with the urge to cry at the warmth and misplaced effort to understand his anxiety. He opens the folder and discovers he has received an A+ for the mad gibberish he had typed out, his English teacher assuming it to be inspired stream-of-conciousness writing.

After laughing himself silly at the absurdity of his teacher's critique of his Final Essay, Jake speaks with both of his parents and smooths things over. After they leave, he picks up Charlie the Choo Choo and begins to read.

While reading, Jake thinks of how the illustrations in the book are similar to the ones in his favorite kindergarten book Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton. In fact, there are a great deal of similarities between Mary Anne the Steam Shovel and Charlie the Choo Choo beyond just the drawings. Both are anthropomorphic machines who are eventually deemed too outdated to be useful, but who eventually prove their continuing worth through hard work and determination.

Another interesting coincidence is that among the other books Virginia Lee Burton wrote (The Little House, Katy and the Big Snow), one of the lesser known stories is Choo Choo, The Story Of A Little Engine Who Ran Away. In other words, the story of a runaway train. This is a topic that will become a deadly literal fact in Jake's near future.

A few years ago, at the Canal Days Festival in Port Colborne, Ontario, I happened to notice a miniature train that seemed to match Charlie the Choo Choo in almost every way.

There was no face on the front like the one you'd see on something like Thomas the Tank-Engine, but with the engineer and the kids being pulled along, it had a real Charlie the Choo Choo feel to it. I had to resist the urge to sing Charlie's favorite song as it chugged past:

Don’t ask me silly questions,
I won’t play silly games.
I’m just a simple choo-choo train
And I’ll always be the same.
I only want to race along
Beneath the bright blue sky,
And be a happy choo-choo train
Until the day I die.

It wasn't until the train stopped and I got a closer look that I began to suspect that this might indeed be Charlie. I looked at the serial numbers along the side of the engine and added them up, that's when I decided I didn't want to get any closer to this locomotive!

Long days, pleasant nights!



Tombstone Tuesday - The Cemetery Gates Pt. 1

I thought we'd do something a little different for this regular segment, so here's our first Cemetery Gates edition of Tombstone Tuesday!

This week, it's the gates of Niagara Falls' Drummond Hill Cemetery on Lundy's Lane . . .

Stay Tombed!



The Quest for the Dark Tower Pt. 8: The Vacant Lot - Part I

***Spoiler warning! Though I've made every attempt to avoid giving away key plot points during this quest, it's still very possible that information discussed herein may spoil a new reader's experience, so consider yourself warned! ***

Jake walks the entire eight blocks of Second Avenue, from Fifty-forth Street all the way down to Forty-sixth Street. In Eddie's dream, when he arrives at the corner of 46th and 2nd he finds Tom and Gerry's Artistic Deli (Party Platters Our Specialty!). When Eddie inserts the key he's been carving into the door's lock, it opens onto the Dark Tower standing at the center of a field of blood red roses.

Jake's experience though, like the House Of Cards magic shop that was actually a diner named Chew Chew Mama's, is somewhat different. Rather than the deli, which somehow he fully expects to find after walking past a stationary store named The Paper Patch, he comes instead to a vacant lot containing weeds, piles of bricks and other trash, like beer bottles and empty wrappers.

The board fence surrounding this vacant lot is plastered with handbills featuring advertisements for Olivia Newton John performing at Radio City Music Hall, a band called G. Gordon Liddy and the Grots performing at an East Village club and a movie poster for War of the Zombies.

War of the Zombies is a 1964 Italian film originally released internationally under the title Roma Contra Roma (Rome Against Rome).

It was distinct from other "sword and sandal" epics of the time because of it's use of a legion of living dead zombie soldiers warring against the Roman armies they once fought for. It stars John Drew Barrymore as Aderbal, a villainous enchanter who bears a striking resemblance to Gilead's own traitorous sorcerer, Marten Broadcloak.

Among all these handbills, Jake also notices a sign:


which has been tagged by a graffiti artist known as Bango Skank. This isn't the last time this type of graffiti will show up. Several times throughout the course of the Dark Tower series Bango Skank's name is found, but what's most interesting is that this isn't the first appearance of this signature tag, either.

Bango Skank first showed up alongside another graffiti tagger by the name of Jeepy, in The Buffalo Hunter, a short story in the collection Houses Without Doors by Peter Straub.

Bev Vincent dedicated an entire sidebar entitled The Ubiquitous Bango Skank in his The Road To The Dark Tower, which mentions how Bango Skank was originally created by Straub for The Talisman, but was never used. Strangely, despite a lengthy list of appearances elsewhere in the Dark Tower series, the appearances in The Buffalo Hunter aren't mentioned at all.

Continuing to explore the vacant lot, Jake sees more graffiti art, one reads:

See the TURTLE of enormous girth!
On his shell he holds the earth
If you want to run and play,
Come along the BEAM today.

Another, on the old Tom and Gerry's Artistic Deli sign simply says:


Eventually Jake comes across a key which he picks up and puts into the Charlie the Choo Choo book . . .

. . . and then, just beyond where the key was resting Jake finds a single, beautifully alien wild rose growing in the shade, just out of sight from the street. He gazes at the flower, entranced by it's beauty, and feels an overwhelming urge to protect this rose from any harm that may come to it. Before he can do anything else though, he realizes the hour has grown late and reluctantly decides to head for home.

Long days, pleasant nights!