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In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: World’s Best Widget

You’ve been granted magical engineering skills, but you can only use them to build one gadget or machine. What do you build?

I play computer role playing games. Perhaps more accurately I should stand up and say that I am addicted to them. I restrict myself to those from a certain developer, since I do really like to have a life outside of gaming.

There is for me one indispensable element of these games. I can save them. I can get to a difficult part, and I can save my current progress; if it all goes wrong, I can them reload my saved game and try it again. Which is a fascinating concept.

How could we use this in real life. And how would we. One could effectively live for ever, as some of my games are wont to do. Endlessly exploring options; reliving events to get the most out of them; undoing dreadful errors, and correcting them.

I have played entire games in the role of a wizard; then reloaded an early save, made a few changes and played the whole thing again this time as a rogue. Which leads inevitably to the darker aspects of this facility. We could live our lives, as total rogues, reloading an earlier save each time we were caught. Or worse, experimenting until we found the perfect heist, or murder.

Oh well, it was a nice idea.

Image credits: Taken by the uploader, w:es:Usuario:BarcexEspañol: Tomada por w:es:Usuario:Barcex [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

Richard Burton, perhaps

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: Voice Work

Your blog is about to be recorded into an audiobook. If you could choose anyone — from your grandma to Samuel L. Jackson — to narrate your posts, who would it be?

Richard Burton, famously possessed a fabulous voice. Oddly, I know him really only from Jeff Wayne’s musical version the War of the Worlds; where he is the narrator. Someone has edited together all the spoken parts on this YouTube video. I can just imagine him extolling the virtues of coffee.

On the other hand. I recently watched a BBC tv programme on one man’s trip through the South (of the US). Reginald D Hunterwas exploring his homeland through it’s musical heritage. I know him only from this programme, though he too has a marvellous voice. He also used a gigantic open topped car to travel around in. Perhaps he would feel more at home than Burton, in the ol’ yellow El Camino.

Image: Autohistorian on Flickr(CC BY 2.0)

Second Time Around ~ Lord Of The Rings

I so nearly wrote about The Lord of the Rings for this Daily Prompt. I was afraid I couldn’t do it justice. Not like this.

Word Adventures

In response to the Daily Post writing prompt Second Time Around.
Tell us about a book you can read again and again without getting bored — what is it that speaks to you?

I’m fairly certain I’ve answered that question one way or another before on this blog. And IRL.
I read The Lord of the Rings 37 times between October 1995 and December 19 2001 when the first movie came out. I won’t tell you how many more times I’ve read it since then. You’d think me crazy (my husband does LOL).

I recall my first reading so very clearly. A high school friend lent me the books thinking that since I loved reading and that I had such a fertile imagination, I would enjoy this one. This was the time I decided that I would never read prologues before the story anymore. The prologue “Concerning Hobbits” almost…

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In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: Second Time Around

Second Time Around: Tell us about a book you can read again and again without getting bored — what is it that speaks to you?

July 1979 found me on tiny verandah in Washington DC. I had worn out my poor feet visiting every museum and gallery in the National Mall and I just wanted to sit down and read. My uncle had a copy of James Clavell’s Shogun. It appealed, far more that the books on international commerce and economics. It started well, a ship wrecked on the coast of a strange land. I got as far chapter three, and then the Greyhound beckoned and I was off west to further explore my own strange land.

April 1984, the north of England, and I am in a converted barn for a week. I have with a freshly printed version of a book I had begun to read some years earlier. This time I survived the ship wreck and entered into the strange land. And I was hooked. I knew little more of Japan than did the shipwrecked Elizabethan friend. But together we were to learn, and like him I came to love it. The characters, the culture, the attitudes, all supported by a compelling story. Since then I have read the book many times. Dog-eared and battered it has travelled around with me. We are now old friends.

The 21st Century, and there remains something special about the book. I know the story well; it holds no surprise, treacherous characters and plot-twists are soon remembered. And yet, still, I read it. Again and again. I love the way it is written, the way the characters are developed and most of all for the way it describes the the country and its culture; and with a passion and admiration in many ways, that I would not have expected from an author who was imprisoned by the Japanese and left with little reason to love them.

The descriptions of the behaviours and attitudes of the samurai lords and the peasant retainers are finely done. In one scene the ‘hero’ has a close encounter with his own death. Clavell describes how the hero feels when the he realises he is still alive, how all the senses are sharper, and life suddenly has a wholly new excitement. I think Clavell knew this first hand, he captures the essence of the moment perfectly, as I too was to learn.

And there is more. The intricate strategies wrought by the warlords; the frustrations of learning, and teaching a foreign language and culture where mistakes could be painful; and the beautiful love story that weaves its way through the book. Reading the book is an exercise in escapism, education, entertainment, and meditation. The concept of harmony, and by implication tranquility permeates the book; no matter how I feel when I start, I always end the book feeling calmer. Soon I may have to retire the old 1984 copy, for I known I shall be reading it again, and again, and again.

Image is of the battle of Sekigahara which is forms the basis for events in the book. Image credit: Public Domain. By User LordAmeth on en.wikipediaCollection of The Town of Sekigahara Archive of History and Cultural Anthropology [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons