Sunday, August 26, 2012

My Plea to Restaurant Owners

I'm blessed with having parents who are amazingly spry and with it mentally and are pushing eighty-two and ninety-one, respectively. My stepfather was a POW in World War II and worked in the mines in northern Japan. As a result of that and working in machines shops all his life, he is pretty deaf. He wears hearing aids, and, yes, they are top-of-the-line hearing aids, but still there are limitations to what a hearing aid can do. Background noise is problematic.

Anyway, we took my mother out for her eighty-second birthday last night and as is common these days, the server began rattling off a laundry list of that night's specials. Because of the background noise and how fast she was speaking my stepfather missed ninety percent of what she said. My mother, who was at the end of the table and is going slightly deaf (although she denies it), couldn't hear anything this woman said.

Restaurants, spend a couple of dollars a day and TYPE UP AND PRINT OUT THE SPECIALS AND CLIP THEM TO YOUR MENUS so that seniors can take full advantage of the lovely fare you have to offer. Instead of putting them in the position of (a) admitting they're are deaf and making the waiter repeat what they've said four times; or (b) having them pretend they aren't deaf and not ordering what they want.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

More Thinkee Thoughts on "Game of Thrones"

I was discussing with a friend the "Game of Thrones" books. He's on book four and I've got books three and four lined up to get me through my work-related business next month in Lisbon. And we were talking about my observation in my last post about how fearless Martin is. He is so bold. He is beholden to no character. He kills off the characters we love, he has the characters we despise triumph. He will spend three chapters establishing our loyalty (or at least sympathy) to a character that he THEN proceeds to kill off. Like, I said, the man has authorial balls.

We were also discussing the issue of how the book is chopped up into different, competing POVs. I think that this can be problematic for the reader because we are leaping around from venue to venue, character to character, more often than not ending a specific POV on a cliff hanger that doesn't get resolved until two hundred pages later. And yet we don't mind. At least, I don't. I've been trying to put my finger on why this doesn't bother me, because normally I prefer a fairly coherent narrative, and I think it's because of Tyrion Lannister. He acts as the reliable narrator and holds the entire series together while all the action takes place in other arenas. He's the ringmaster of the book.

I personally adore Tyrion, but that's not really the issue. It's that his POV is actually the "true" POV of the book. Oh, you might hate him, hate his relatives, hate it when he's successful, love it when he's debased, but he's rarely, if ever wrong about ANY of the characters or the action. He despises his nephew for all the right reasons, but he's also determined to help him keep his throne. Tyrion's assessment of the other characters and the action in the book are all seen through an extremely rational lens, albeit with Lannister-colored glasses.

His POV helps anchor the narrative so that we can leap from POV to POV without getting whiplash. I sigh with relief with I finally arrive back in his POV because I can relax. I'm "home" in a sense. I trust him as a character in a funny way.

Please. Don't tell me if he gets killed off. I can't handle it.