A Black October

“Nothing is as real as a dream. Responsibilities need not erase it. Duties need not obscure it. Because the dream is within you, no one can take it away.”Tom Clancy

Best-selling author, Tom Clancy, dies on Tuesday, 1 October 2013 in Baltimore. He was 66.


I was in college back in the 80s when a friend let me borrow the book, Hunt For Red October by Tom Clancy. My friend knew I wasn’t into the kind of books most girls my age read, so when he was done reading it he literally shoved the book to me and told me I should read it. I wasn’t into the military/espionage thing either, but read the book anyway. It was well-written that amazingly,  I was able to comprehend the vast technical aspects and naval details of submarines like the Red October. I was surprised to find myself reading it every chance I got, in between classes, lunchtime and all through the night when I got home. I was hooked, line and sinker included. I became a fan of Jack Ryan and Clancy since then. I’ve read around ten books of the Jack Ryan series, some borrowed, some bought ( but I had to wait for paperback editions — no Kindle versions back then ).

As a writer, Clancy is one of a herd of great writers I admire and take lessons from. There is so much to learn from a genius story-teller like him. An insurance agent in Baltimore wrote about submarines, the Cold War and CIA like espionage was his day job and selling insurance was just his cover. Hollywood noticed and made movies out of some of the books like Hunt for Red October, Clear And Present Danger, Patriot Games, and The Sum of All Fears with award-winning actors like Harrison Ford, Alec Baldwin and Ben Affleck in the role of Jack Ryan.

His last book of the series, Command Authority, will be out in December 2013 published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons and a new movie is set to be released by Christmas 2013 entitled, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit with Chris Pines in the title role.  It is with great sadness to say thank you and goodbye to a giant in the literary world. Rest in peace, Tom Clancy, your legacy lives on.

“I understand why we do that now. It’s a help, not a threat. It’s something to remind you how important words are. Ideas are important. Principles are important. Words are important. Your word is the most important of all. Your word is who you are.”Tom Clancy, A Clear And Present Danger

The Mirror

Time to open our eyes and see ourselves in the mirror . . . what do you see?

Stone of Destiny

She crouched in the middle of the gallery floor and we stood outside, watching her. She clung to that spot, naked, neither posed nor at rest, her face turned away from us in base humiliation.

And yet she was looking right at us, her green eyes meeting our own, challenging and defiant.

She looked so alone in that barren space, separated from the rest of us by the windows and the locked glass door.

I wondered how it must feel for her as we crowded around her in the confined space of the gallery floor, looking down on her in mingled loathing, and confusion, and lust.

We had talked about her plan a few days before. At the appointed hour, she would lock herself inside the student gallery (having reserved it for the week) and then disrobe. Lined up in a semicircle around her perch, a row of…

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The Threshold of Old Age

“There is nothing for my part I like better, Cephalus, than conversing with aged men; for I regard them as travellers who have gone a journey which I too may have to go, and of whom I ought to enquire, whether the way is smooth and easy, or rugged and difficult. And this is a question which I should like to ask of you who have arrived at that time which the poets call the “threshold of old age” — is life harder towards the end, or what report do you give of it?” — Plato in The Republic

Source: http://www.euclides.org/menu/articles/platon38.jpg
Source: http://www.euclides.org/menu/articles/platon38.jpg

My family loves to eat out on weekends and we try out a new place we chance to find on the web. On one occasion, we decided to try a new cro-nut place.  I was handed the menu and started to rummage through my purse (which carries about a hundred different what-nots from my phone, Kindle, wallet, lipsticks, lip balm, powder, tissue, napkins, notebook, car keys, house keys, card holder, Mentos, and other stuff I’ve forgotten it’s there) looking for my reading glasses. It’s not in there. “How can I read without my . . .” , I would start, then my daughter takes one look at me and tells me, “It’s on your head, mom.” Voila!

Far-sightedness and forgetfulness were the first signs of old age I noticed when I reached my 40s. Lines and spots have also begun to show on my face lately, and my hair needed color too.  Now I ask myself, Am I at the threshold of old age? Duh? Obviously, isn’t it? Ok, I accept that fact, but still, like Plato, I still love a good conversation with persons older than I am. It’s like having a good meal. You leave feeling great and filled with new-found knowledge and wisdom.

On the other hand, I believe knowledge and wisdom are not acquired only with age. It can be found among the young as well. I’ve learned a lot from my children, even when they were still very young. I also enjoy reading blogs written by young people and find them truly awe-inspiring.

When I was young, my mom would say, “Always listen to your elders’ advice, for while you are still on your way, we’re on our way back . . .”

Dancing To The Song of Ice and Fire (Part 2)

Arya Stark

“It’s just a stupid sword,” she said, aloud this time…
… but it wasn’t.
Needle was Robb and Bran and Rickon, her mother and her father, even Sansa. Needle was Winterfell’s grey walls, and the laughter of its people. Needle was the summer snows, Old Nan’s stories, the heart tree with its red leaves and scary face, the warm earthy smell of the glass gardens, the sound of the north wind rattling the shutters of her room. Needle was Jon Snow’s smile.” — Arya Stark in A Feast For Crows

Another awesome character I love is Arya Stark. The daughter of Ned and Catherine Stark, a young girl who refuses to accept what girls should be like. Unlike her elder sister, Sansa, who is everything a noble girl should be, Arya prefers the freedom of doing what she loved most — dancing with the sword — always remembering to use the pointy end.

When the Iron Throne was besieged with intrigue after the “accidental death by a boar attack” of then King Robert Baratheon, and Ned Stark’s execution as a traitor, Arya’s world fell into chaos. She fled and went off the grid, far from Queen Cersei and the new King Joffrey’s grasp. She was whisked away by Ned’s friend to be taken to the Wall and therefore had to pretend to be a boy named Ari. Became a captive for a time by the House of Bolton, but was able to escape with the help of Jaqen, a mysterious man from Braavos. She eventually travelled to Braavos and joined the assassins’ Guild of Faceless Men.

After the death of Ned, the Starks were forced to go on separate ways to face an unbelievable stroke of fate. And the adventure goes on. Vallah morgullis! All men die.

Meanwhile, on the far south of Westeros, Daenerys Targaryen, rightful heir to the Iron Throne, marches to claim what is rightfully hers. She marches with a whole army of Dothrakis, Unsullied . . . and dragons. I simply adore her!

If you haven’t read the book, you might want to check it out at George R.R. Martin’s website http://georgerrmartin.co.uk . I highly recommend it.

Dancing To The Song of Ice and Fire

“Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armour yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.” — Tyrion Lannister in A Game of Thrones

George R.R. Martin’s epic series A Song of Fire and Ice has surely captured readers around the world and brought the realm of The Realm to life. From the Wall, to Westeros and beyond, unforgettable characters and places continue to charm and enchant readers like me. I’ve finished the last book, Dance With Dragons, last year and have, ever since, waited in curious anticipation for the next book. Believe it or not, I’ve been praying for Martin’s health so he could finish the series in this lifetime!

Written in a style where the narrators vary from each character’s point of view in every chapter, you get to see the world of Westeros through different sets of eyes and their respective morals and philosophies. It made me understand how a character thought and did what they did. This gave the whole story a life of its own.

Martin created a world quite different from our own and yet resoundingly similar in every way. Mythical creatures and ideas abound, from dire wolves to dragons, red priests to white walkers, Bravos to the Wall. However, in whatever world people are in, there will always be love and hatred, intrigue and jealousy, war and greed.

Tyrion of the House Lannister
Tyrion of the House Lannister

Aside from the main characters, the book was peppered with a myriad players, each one quite interesting. Tyrion Lannister is my favourite character of all. I see a wise and big-hearted person in the creature everyone in Westeros calls the “Half-man”. Quite despicable in the early chapters of A Game of Thrones and slowly emerged like a dark horse in the race for “who’s-the-real-hero-here?”. When I got to the fifth book, I found Tyrion to be quite the man of my dreams, blind to the fact that he is, after all, a midget.

To be continued . . .