The Patriarch Rolls On

A very happy birthday to Uncle Mack today. He’s the patriarch–defined as the “male head of a family or tribe”–of our branch of the Webner family, and he celebrates a special birthday today. Of course, when you reach such an advanced age, pretty much every birthday is a special one.

Patriarchs have two crucial functions. The first is to live as long as possible, and thereby relieve younger people from the burdens of patriarch designation. Uncle Mack has fulfilled that function admirably: he’s been the family patriarch for nearly 25 years and seems pretty darned comfortable in that role. In the Webner clan where, historically, the men unfortunately have not lived to a ripe old age, Uncle Mack’s longevity is especially noteworthy. It opens new vistas of retirement opportunity for the rest of us guys.

The second patriarchal function is to pass your wisdom down to younger generations. Uncle Mack has done a good job in that category as well. He’s not only shared the lessons learned from a lifetime of experience–as well as his candid opinions on just about anything–he’s also been an invaluable source of family lore. And his willingness to always try new things, whether it’s acting, playing in a jazz combo, or taking on a legal writing job well into his 70s, is itself a valuable bit of teaching.

Happy birthday to the Patriarch! May you have many, many more.

Waiting On The Winds

Some things seem to take forever . . . but nothing seems to take as long as the release of the next book in the A Song Of Ice And Fire series, on which the Game of Thrones TV show was based. Called The Winds Of Winter, its release date has been repeatedly delayed.

Multiple presidential elections have come and gone. The HBO series hit the pinnacle of popularity and ended. Pandemics have swept the face of the globe. And still A Song Of Ice And Fire readers wait, and wait, and wait — like the poor unfortunates who are trying to get out of Africa that the narrator describes at the beginning of Casablanca.

Author George R.R. Martin has taken progressively longer to release the next volume in the series. The first book was published in 1996 (that’s 25 years ago, but who’s counting?), the second in 1998, the third in 2000, the fourth in 2005, and the fifth in 2011. In short, fans of the series have been waiting for a full decade for the next book. We’ve been waiting so long, in fact, that I’ve written before–six years ago–about the delayed publication date, and we don’t seem to be any closer to an actual release of the book. And The Winds Of Winter isn’t even the last book in the series!

Why do fans care about this? After all, some would point out, the HBO series told us how the story ends. But the books are much richer in detail in their description of Westeros and its inhabitants and their culture, with important characters who never even made it on the TV show screen. And while I’m not as negative as some are about the ending of the HBO series, I’d like to see how the creator of this compelling world wraps up the story. Of course, I’ll have to go back and reread the prior books when The Winds Of Winter comes out, just to make sure that I am fully recalling all of the different plot threads.

So, when is the next book coming out? No one but Martin really knows, but the speculation is that it will hit the bookstores in November 2023–a mere two years away. Having waited for a decade, I guess I can endure another two years.

Or three, or four . . . .