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TGR, Gutenberg, Rubric

March 2015



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TGR, Gutenberg, Rubric

Five Easy Pieces--Meme

littledupont started this with the questions she asked me when I opted in. I'm not sure I've got such a good mind at creating questions as she has shown, but if you'd like five questions for yourself, respond and I'll do my best to make you think. Here are the five questions and answers that I have.

1) You can be anyone's personal assitant in the world - who would you work for and why?
Having done this before, I think I'd approach it a little differently this time. Remember Simon in S&E? I modeled him after my former boss. But to choose the person I would like to assist? Mahatma Ghandi. There is no person I can think of who more embodies my ideals of pacifist activism, nor who probably needed a personal assistant less.

2) You write books, if you could have written any book that someone else all ready did, which one would you choose?
This is tough since you focus on writing the book, not being the author. (That rules out The Bible, though I think I'd have edited it a little more closely!) I'd have to say that one of the books that most influenced my early writing was White Gold Wielder by Stephen Donaldson. It is book three of the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. It is the first book that I can ever remember reading that I wept through an entire chapter (the Giant's Camora). I remember thinking at the time that if I could move people with my writing like he did in that chapter, I would be all the writer I wanted to be.

3) You have any amount of money to spend a month anywhere you want in the world, even with multiple destinations if you want, where do you go and why?
I've told my family that I want a six-month duration first class round-the-world airplane ticket for my retirement, but that's about as likely to happen as that I would have a month on an unlimited budget to spend somewhere. I have often thought that I'd like to take a month to completely recover from life in the quintessential tropical paradise, with all the trappings. I think of Bali, Tahiti, Belize, Nassau, or Tennerife as being the type of place where I could pretend to be stranded on a dessert island for a month. Oh the thoughts I would think and the words I would write!

4)Object question: If you were to be an LJ icon, other than any you might have ever used, what would you be a picture of? Describe your use of your 100 by 100 pixels :)
Do you think you could capture the whole of Gallileo, daVinci, and Rodin in the 10,000 pixels allowed? Hmm, didn't think so. The theme is thought and discovery, science and art. The icon would be oriented left to right. In most of our ideology, looking left is deemed to be looking back in time and looking right is looking forward in time. At the furthest right, the box is black, unknown, and mysterious. At the left, looking into the box is a spyglass. The area immediately surrounding the glass is light and may even have an image representative of the present, clear and focused. The image would fade to darkness as it approaches the unknown of the future. Scrolling text would move across the image, unreadable in the light portion, but gaining clarity as it moves into the dark future. The text would say, "I see more clearly when I look into the darkness. The past is a haze of memory. The future is the crystal of anticipation."

5) If you could be an international superstar in any sport at all, what sport would you pick, and what would your cool superstar nickname be?
I've never followed sports all that much, nor have I idolized any sports figures. However, knowing what I do now about Figure Skating, I would (avoiding the Blaze of Glory cliches) become a superstar figure skater. Men are rare in the upper reaches and women are plentiful, beautiful, athletic, and smart. But beyond that, even my limited experience on in-line skates tells me that figure skating is the nearest you can do on earth to flying. I'd like to be that kind of airborne. My name? Orion. I would be a constellation in the sky.

If you'd like questions, comment and tell me. I'll do my best.


You do have great questions. I like that they require deeper answers than a lot of them that I see, though I haven't yet looked at your friends. I like your answers, too.
Would you like a set of questions?
I like your answers. :D

I'd be willing to answer some questions. I haven't done a good meme in a while...
Okay. I wrote these up on the plane yesterday and finally got a connection this afternoon. Here are your questions.
  1. From what cartoonist (living or dead) would you most like to have a collection of original art? Why?

  2. Anyplace in the world that you choose to live, you will have good work, loving family, and financial security. Where would you live?

  3. You have been selected to be part of the first manned expedition to Mars. You will be gone five years. You may take personal items with you that fit in a cigar box. What do you take?

  4. Object: You have three panels of a cartoon to show your philosophy of life (with no words). Describe the contents of each panel.

  5. You’ve just been selected as a Nobel Prize winner. In what field, and who (living or dead) will present the award to you?

1. I'd really like to have some of the original watercolors from Watterson's Sunday Calvin and Hobbes comics, but I'm pretty sure that's beyond possible. But the combination of sublime linework and subtle yet brilliant details in the coloring is why I consider Watterson to be the most talented artist to ever grace the comics page. Apart from that? I already own original art from a number of online cartoonists, but someday I'd really like to get my hands on some Girl Genius art.

2. Seattle. Maybe San Francisco, but I'm really very fond of the Pacific Northwest, and the way Seattle in particular is surrounded by mountains on all sides, and the overall cultural attitude of the city. And it helps that it's one of the best places in the world to work as a programmer. :D

3. Item number one is a PDA or palmtop computer with as many electronic books (and a few games, perhaps, but that's not as important) as I can fit onto it from my stack to read. Item number two is a sketchbook, as large as I can fit (I think something like 5x7 would work?) and pencils. After that? Maybe a deck or two of cards (or some similarly-sized card games), and maybe a few pictures of family and friends (though I'd be as likely as not to just put those on the PDA/palmtop too). I don't tend to have a lot of attachments to specific physical items, so as long as I can fulfill my main passions of reading, creating art, and playing games, I'll be fine.

4. Panel 1 would simply be a drawing of all of my friends and family, and everyone in my life that is important to me, holding me up against a blustering wind. They are my foundation, my support, and my net when I fall. Panel 2 would be a portrait of me at my drawing desk, working hard and proudly on my creations. Art isn't the only thing I take pride in, but it represents everything I do. Panel 3 would be me balancing on a tightrope or a cliff's edge or something like that. That one's a little harder to express, but my philosophy of life in the end is surrounding oneself with good people, doing good work (be it a job, a hobby, whatever) and taking pride in it, and keeping a balance between all things in one's life.

5. That's a tough one. But I once had ambitions of studying theoretical physics and solving the unified field theory, so I'd have to go with Physics. As for the presenter, I'd have to go with Albert Einstein, for many reasons. Apart from bringing a human face to science - something that is in itself admirable - I really would have liked the chance to meet him, and I've always appreciated his sense of humor and his seamless blending of science, philosophy, and religion.

Those were some great questions. Thanks!
I saw this under Tina's thing and thought it was interesting, but haven't had any free time at all this week... so I'm going to let you come up with 5 questions instead of her :P
Okay. I'm in D.C. now and wrote these up on the plane yesterday. Here you go!
  1. You have just been granted the pulpit at the UU church in your home town. It is your first Sunday. What is the topic of your sermon?

  2. You just landed your dream-role in a movie (or stageplay or musical). What is the show about and who is your co-star (living or dead)?

  3. You call a person more than twice your age (whom you have only met in RL once) both your friend and mentor. What is it that you would like most to learn from him?

  4. Object: You have just discovered a talisman that will ward you against your greatest fear. What is the talisman and how does it work?

  5. You’ve been invited to the white house where you will be awarded a presidential honor. Who will present the award to you and what is it for?

1. "Home": Where is it? What does it mean? How do you make a home in a faraway place?

[It would address sacred space, solitude, and feelings of comfort in unfamiliar places.]

2. It's about progress in the world via peaceful means (a la Gandhi, the Orange Revolution, Dr. MLK Jr., etc.) and my co-star would be Mos Def because I love his music, his acting, his sense of comedic timing, and I think he's very handsome ;)

3. How to stay in the moment and not worry too much about the future, while at the same time working toward a goal.

4. I think it would be a permanently-blooming flower to remind me of nature and being outside at home in Maine in the summer and it would bring me comfort to know that people think of me well when I'm not around and even when they are not in contact me. [My biggest fear is being forgotten &/or not loved/remembered by those I love/remember every day.]

5. Well, if it's a presidential honor, it would probably be given by the president :P It would be for working with refugees and displaced persons, particularly youth.
I love your answers! I was particularly moved by your answers for numbers 1 through 3. And your quote in 4 was sublime. ;)

perspective changes everything...

Re: White Gold Wielder. Have you read it again recently?

I remember back when I was in my early 20s, a college roomate was going on and on about how the Thomas Covenant series was his favorite ever, etc., etc. I'd never read them, so he loaned them to me.

I loved them. The first series more than the second, but yeah, they were fab. I also remember being particularly taken when Donaldson's giants. I still remember his description of their great cliff-dug city, where the windows which Covenant saw from afar when first approaching the place were placed in a way that seemed elusively not-quite-random. As though there was a pattern there which Thomas could't quite grasp.

A couple of years ago I was talking about books with some friends, and somehow that series came up again. My friend was rather disparaging of them, which I thought was odd because it clashed so much with my memory of them. He said something to the effect of "yeah, they're total Tolkien rip-offs" and made some disparaging quip about the chronicles of "Thomas Covenant the Endless Whiner."

So I read them again. Having recently re-read Lord of the Rings (before the movies came out), it was easy to see the parallels. I doubt I got more than half a book into the first trilogy before I knew my friend was right. But for some reason, I stuck with it and re-read all six books (although I hear he has a 7th coming out sometime. Maybe it alreay has). He was totally right. Great huge swaths of Tolkien are lifted, practically en masse, into the series. It's not at all difficult to find the mappings--LotR dwarves = Giants, elves = woodhelvenin, etc. He occasionally mixes-and-matches elements so you'll find figures, cultures, and races in Donaldson that are composites of stuff from Tolkien.

I don't mean to be picking on your choice of books you'd like to have ghost written. I just think Donaldson could have worked harder at making the elements of his fantasy world more original and distinctive. I mean, he was clearly going for the "epic fantasy" genre, and if you're going to be epic you'd better be original.

Re: perspective changes everything...


But yes, Donaldson can write quite emotionally. Even on the second reading, the Giant's Camora chapter choked me up. But--stone and sea!--Saltheart Foamfollower was IMHO the hands-down coolest and most sympathetic character in the whole series. So if I was going to get choked up about anybody, it'd be him.


Re: perspective changes everything...

Yes, I've found that most "Alternate World" fantasy writers today have their roots firmly embedded in either Tolkein or Dungeons and Dragons. I haven't re-read the Covenant series in many years and I'm sure I'd have a different feeling now than I did thirty years ago. I have, however, just acquired Book 7 and am planning to read that on the plane tomorrow. Donaldson didn't stop with Covenant, though, and IMHO his work continued to improve and he expanded his fantasy world repertoire immensesly (Other Side of the Mirror), Expanded into space opera that is of Lucasian quality (A Dark and Angry God Arises), and had one of the hardest-hitting detective novels I'd read in some time (The Man Who Fought Alone). I'm looking forward to seeing what the return to Covenant is like after 30 years away.

Re: perspective changes everything...

Sorry, thought I was logged in. That was me.

Re: perspective changes everything...

Yeah, honestly I don't think I've read anything else of his. I'd be interested to know if his writing has improved substantially in Covenant 7. If it has, maybe I'll read it just out of curiosity, and because I hate to leave a story unfinished. I'll do it if a story is really terrible, but I hate to...

And you're right that most modern fantasy derives, at least indirectly, from Tolkien. But hey, he basically invented the genre. I just wish that the different (non-humanistic) aspects of Donaldson's races in Covenant weren't so incredibly similar to the ones in Tolkien.

For instance, in Covenant, the Giantish tongue is described as being terribly long-winded and verbose by human standards. Hmm. Kind of like Entish, then? And Ents were the most giant race in LotR. Gee, what a coincidence! Not. And the whole tree-city place I can't think of the name of? The one that gets burned down? That's nothing at all like Lothlorien. No, no, not in the least! Uh huh.

He could have done anything with the Giantish tongue to make it distinct. Just off the cuff, he could have made Giantish a tonal language (like Chinese) but with the tonal aspects extending into the (for humans) infra-sonic range, meaning that no human could ever truly hear Giantish, or learn to speak it. Humans could feel it--the infrasonic tones would rattle our chests--but we wouldn't hear them. That would have been cool.

He could have made the tree city be alpine and made from a big evergreen tree instead of a deciduous tree. He could have done any number of things to make his work more unique, but he didn't.