Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Different kinds of clever

1. Every now and then I'll read a piece of writing online that will make me pause and admire it. Or I'll find a sentence so eloquently crafted that I can't help but be jealous that someone thought of putting those words in that exact order and wish that I had thought of it first.

I spotted one of those yesterday. Russell Wangersky wrote a lovely tribute to his mother, who died recently of cancer. I can only imagine, and can only hope to continue to imagine, how difficult it is to write something about a parent who had died. But as might be expected, Wangersky does it well. He's rapidly growing into being one of the province's best writers, which probably explains the decision to step back (I'm assuming it was voluntary) as Managing Editor of The Telegram and focus more on commentary writing and take over as head of Creative Publishing.

But in the middle of that tribute he dropped the following line. I defy you to find a sentence that gives you a better mental image of what his mother must have been like.
She was unstoppable, a force of nature, a silver-grey lump of metallic sodium dropped into water and rushing in all kinds of inexplicable impelled directions surrounded by a cloud of blue flame.

I hate him just a little bit for that sentence. But as always, the good ones give you something to strive for.

2. And in a completely unrelated direction, I enjoyed this story of parents who came up with an interesting solution when their 13-year-old son wanted to play a first person shooter video game - Call of Duty. He had to research the Geneva Convention and when playing the game abide by the rules of the convention. Which the kid agreed to and follows. If he doesn't, the parents take away the game.

Two things jumped out at me right away. First, clever idea. And secondly, the parents and the kid must already have a pretty good relationship going for this to work so well in the first place.

Of course, you read the comments section and then all the snark begins. About how you can't do that in the video game, how the parents are awful because they shouldn't be letting him play video games in the first place, and so on and so forth.

You know what? The parents are trying. They could have just let him sit and blow shit up all day with his friends and not care, but at least they're trying something different. And hell, maybe video games might want to consider the option of allowing people to surrender or follow Geneva Convention rules. I'm probably the last person to ask what should be done with video games. I don't play them much, especially first-person shooters. Something about the jerky movements tends to make me nauseous.

Anyway, they're trying, it's kind of clever and something video game companies might want to consider more often.

Last Five
1. Feet in the clouds - Paul McCartney
2. Sulky girl - Elvis Costello
3. Red red red - Fiona Apple
4. God - Tori Amos
5. Sorry Lori - Ron Hynes

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