Words Of Dan

…we watched the Earth burning, and as it burnt we burnt you too.

Month: March, 2012

Home After Dinner

Image taken from SciencePhotoLibrary.com (hope they don't mind!)

The clang of dirty dinner plates being neatly stacked on the draining board halted a conversation’s flow in the smoky kitchen for about as much time as it took Maggie to reach into her cardigan pocket, pull out her packet of Major extra-sized cigarettes, purse one in her lips and light it, inhaling the first deep breath of her twenty-fourth of the day. The first after dinner is always the best. She had been smoking since she was sixteen, and never more than now at sixty-five years old.

Her husband and her three grown up sons retired to the living room to digest their food as always, and she was left in the kitchen with her three daughters for their after-dinner chat. They would have anywhere between fifteen minutes to half an hour before the men would return to the kitchen to clean the delft (Maggie always insisted that the cook never cleaned). The length of time depended on how many servings the men had dished themselves. Today Maggie reckoned it would be the full half hour.

She took a few more lungfuls of her Major extra-sized, and extinguished it in her glass ashtray. The weather was not particularly pleasant; it was cool, and there was a constant drizzle that kept the windows wet with little rolling droplets. She looked outside while in the comforting warmth of her home, and smiled to herself.

‘What’re ya’ smilin’ at Mammy?’ Claire asked, who was filling a kettle with water from the tap to make them all tea.

Ah… nothin’ really, just smilin’ to me’self.’

Her children were all fully grown, and had warm homes of their own. All were married, most had children, yet they would all reconvene here in the homestead of their childhoods from time to time to spend an evening with their parents and catch up on each other’s lives.

Wishing the moment would sit still, and knowing nothing lasted forever, Maggie took a snapshot in her mind of the girls, or rather women, chatting busily, paying no heed to their words meaning yet finding them comforting, like a warm blanket or a glass of hot whiskey. Without knowing it they gave Maggie the rare gift of utter contentment. She had done a good job.

She reached into her cardigan pocket, pulled out her packet of Major extra-sized cigarettes, pursed one in her lips, and lit number twenty-five just in time for her cup of tea.


A Man and his Dog

I’ve almost certainly decided that, God willing, one day I’ll have the pleasure of housing a dog. I’m not certain about breed; probably something manageable, at least initially, so I can learn what it takes to share your space with another individual who needs almost constant care and attention. What I’ve realised is how important it is. It’s a reminder of how we should be continually caring for those who need caring for. Looking into Gypsy’s gorgeous blue eyes (Gypsy is the dog above) you can sense a very real personality, no less aware of the pleasures and pains of life than I. In all honesty we can train a dog all we want, but I personally feel they teach us the lessons that truly matter.

Click the photo to enlarge

Taken using a Canon 600D with a 50mm f/1.4

Canal Bank Walk

Canal Bank Walk – Patrick Kavanagh

Leafy-with-love banks and the green waters of the canal
Pouring redemption for me, that I do
The will of God, wallow in the habitual, the banal,
Grow with nature again as before I grew.
The bright stick trapped, the breeze adding a third
Party to the couple kissing on an old seat,
And a bird gathering materials for the nest for the Word
Eloquently new and abandoned to its delirious beat.
O unworn world enrapture me, encapture me in a web
Of fabulous grass and eternal voices by a beech,
Feed the gaping need of my senses, give me ad lib
To pray unselfconsciously with overflowing speech
For this soul needs to be honoured with a new dress woven 
From green and blue things and arguments that cannot be proven.

Click Photo to Enlarge

I took this photo while walking down the canal near where I live. I’d say it has changed immeasurably since Kavanagh wrote his poem. Still it retains a certain charm.

Ender’s Game – Review

            Being honest I expected Ender’s Game to be brainless. A lovely, completely trashy, space novel with nice, easily digestible themes and characters. I expected straight-forward-right-to-the-point dialogue, shallow characters, and laser guns going pew-pew. My expectation was completely accurate for the most part; everything except the completely trashy presumption, where I couldn’t have been more wrong. Published in 1985 it won both the Hugo and Nebula awards.

In brief, Ender is a prodigous child born into an America that is bracing itself for another battle deep in space with an alien invasion force, affectionately called buggers. Ender, however, is no ordinary child, and neither are his brother and sister. They are examples of children with outstanding talent who could one day lead an army against the bugger force.

The most widespread criticism of Ender’s Game is the advanced nature of conversation between the large cast of children. While I would usually agree with the basis of this argument in most cases, speculative fiction is an exception for me. Ender, along with many of the children in this story, are not the children we know but rather the children that could be. Orson Scott Card sells this very, very well. Despite their acute awareness of social and political superstructures as early as six, they still jostle with the old problems of peer pressure, bullying and finding a secure place within a family unit.

Battle School, the special school for gifted children, is also quite cool. Large battles with laser guns in a constantly-changing, ever-challenging virtual environment… every kid’s dream really.

Definitely worth the read. It’s far better than I thought it would be, and has made me think twice about writing off mid to late-80s speculative fiction without giving it fair time. Light, casual read with fun action sequences, likeable characters, and some impressive thematic undertones.