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Monday, January 21, 2019

M³ Gender Reassignment

            So, the stories of Zeus have been on the heavy-handed side for a while. It’s time we do one that’s actually kind of fun, especially one that is so bizarre. Today we examine the story of Teiresias.
            One day, Zeus and Hera had an argument (shocker). The argument was about who gets more pleasure from sex. Zeus says it’s women, and Hera says it’s men. How do you solve such a disagreement? You consult an expert who has been both. They go to talk to Teiresias.
            So, Teiresias was on a journey when he came across two snakes joined together in, um, okay, they were having sex. I will not deny that Teiresias is something of a voyeur and perv for watching the snakes go at it, and he’s a real jerk because he took his staff and smacked the snakes. Instead of breaking them up, well, some kind of weird magic took place and Teiresias suddenly became a woman.
            He was that way for seven years until he came across the same two snakes going at it again, and thought, “Hmm, if I hit them with my staff again, I will change back to a man.”
            I have no idea what kind of messed up, stupid logic led him to this conclusion. I must stress this to everyone, if you come across a pair of snakes having sex, do not, DO NOT hit them with a stick. Just imagine how upset you would be if you were finally managing to get some and a weirdo smacks you with a stick. You would probably bite the guy, or break his skull open or something.
            But Teiresias was right in his deduction, and he becomes a man again. Thus, armed with the proper experience to adjudicate Zeus and Hera’s argument, they pay him a visit. Now, having experienced the pettiness of the other gods, we know that it’s probably not a good idea to give a god an answer that he or she does not like. Adjudicating such an argument between gods is a recipe for disaster.
            My advice, try not to have completely unique cosmic experiences. That way, disagreeing gods will not visit you and demand you choose between them. The more you know.
            So, the two show up and put T to the question. His verdict: women get more pleasure from sex. Zeus wins the argument.
            Now, one would think that if you’re going to piss of a god no matter what, you don’t want to piss off the king of the gods, so this was a wise move on T’s part. Can we trust his answer is truthful? He does have motive to lie, assuming he thinks he can get away with it. As a general rule, it’s not a good idea to lie to gods. Sure, they’re not omniscient, but they are very knowledgeable. Zeus, especially, would be good at sniffing out a bluff. He’s had some experience at politics.
Hera isn’t exactly a pushover, either. She’s knowledgeable in her own right, used to ferreting out Zeus’s illicit affairs and punishing his lovers and illicit offspring. I don’t think it’s in T’s best interest to try lying. The payoff just isn’t there.
If he lies, he risks pissing off both of them because the implication is that he thinks they’re stupid. If he tells the truth, he’ll only piss off one. So, we can be reasonably sure that his verdict is truth. So, ladies, you get more pleasure in bed than men. It’s a fact, now. We can cite the case with Teiresias as precedent.
Of course, because Zeus wins, that means Hera is mightily ticked off. She blinds Teiresias. Completely, totally blind. Which, as far as curses go, is actually pretty mild compared to the likes of what Demeter, Artemis, and Athena have done.
Now Zeus is here, but he doesn’t reverse the blindness. The reason is pretty interesting, and has important implications.
Stay tuned.

Friday, January 18, 2019

F³ Proxy

            “I’ll bite,” I said. “Why vote down women’s membership?”
            Now Nikki smiled. She rose smoothly, crossed the space and sat on the couch facing me. At some point, the zipper on her skirt had moved from just above the knee all the way up to her hip, showing off a very generous amount of leg.
            She arched her back as she leaned towards me, presenting a fabulous view of cleavage. It was completely intentional, she was trying to distract me. I didn’t know why, and until I did, I felt justified in looking where she wanted me to look. After all, she was taking the time and effort, it would be rude not to look.
            “On your way here, you ran into Theresa, did you not?”
            “Sure, I guess.”
            Nikki rolled her eyes. “You know, Dumpling, for a supposedly observant detective, you have difficulty with salient details.”
            “Yup,” I said, continuing to leer down Nikki’s blouse, letting my eyes slide to her leg.
            “Really, Matthew, must you be so obviously distracted?” Nikki chided.
            “The young redheaded woman.”
            “The one who decidedly didn’t fit the standard physical or behavioral model for Fairhaven Club. Decided glimmer of intelligence, but she’s not as good at hiding her contempt for people as she thinks. You let her wait on any of the big wigs and even they’ll figure it out eventually no matter how good she is at showing legs and cleavage.”
            Nikki blinked, then the smile went from simply flirtatious to genuinely fond.

Monday, January 14, 2019

M³ Men vs. Gods

            Okay, so we have to break this all down. Zeus, by providing Pandora is enabling a method for humanity to learn and grow past their mistakes. Sure, they have to suffer through some stuff to do so, but he also threw in hope to make sure it was possible to grow.
            Zeus goes on to father heroes, providing examples for what humanity should aspire to, what they have the potential to become, whether it’s Perseus using his wits and Batman-esque items to save the day and rescuing Andromeda from her blaspheming parents or Hercules setting aside his own pride to atone for actions under madness.
            Lastly, we have the realization of the human potential in heroes such as Diomedes and Odysseus, representing physical and mental prowess of humanity, respectively. The question we’re faced with, though, is why does Zeus want this?
            We’re on shakier ground, here. Zeus, being Zeus, never comes right out and states his purpose. We’re going to have to infer his purpose from the evidence at hand. The actions are too deliberate to think it’s accidental. We know that he wants humanity to grow.
            Furthermore, we know that Zeus is something of a politician. He can make alliances, and he doesn’t renege on them. He was honest in his dealings with the Cyclopes and Hundred Handed-ones.
            He forgave the Olympians for their attempted coup, asking only an oath from them.
            He is adaptable. He can adjust what he’s doing and change his own behaviors. He is a fierce opponent resorting to brutality when he feels it’s justified, will avoid entanglements in his mediations between the gods, even relying on his mother Rhea (yes, the one he raped) to mediate between Demeter and Hades.
            Out of all the Greek gods, he is the most skillful and adaptable, mostly because the others, as we’ have seen, are incapable of change in any way. They are the way they are. Forever.
            But with humanity, there is a race that can change and grow, and they have done so at a phenomenal pace, cosmically speaking. In a few dozen generations, human heroes have shown that they can challenge titans (Odysseus defeating Polyphemus) and the Olympian gods (Diomedes routing Ares). It’s only a matter of time until they will be able to rise up as an entire people to become more powerful than the gods themselves.
            The only gods they will be able to replace, though, are the gods who cannot change, meaning the rest of the Olympian gods. Zeus himself, however, will be immune to them as he will continue to grow and change even as the people do. Moreover, he has been their patron from the beginning, skillfully manipulating events to most benefit them without the other gods ever knowing.
            Could they ever rise up in power enough to challenge him? Well, sure. But then, that’s just the pattern established since the beginning of time in Greek mythology. The son replaces the father. Zeus, however, will not be replaced by the likes of the unchanging Olympians, who have proven themselves spiteful and petty in their disputes. The god who eventually replaces Zeus will be a worthy successor capable of the same growth as Zeus himself, if there’s ever even a need to replace such a skillful and capable king of the Gods.

Friday, January 11, 2019

F³ The Secret Smile

            The redhead guided me to the simply named room 8 not far away. The Fairhaven Club didn’t go in for fancy names for rooms like convention centers did, but the layout of the rooms had never quite made sense to me. For example, room 8 was next to rooms 7 and 11. I tried my best to think of a Vegas connection, but came up with nothing. If there was an actual plan, it wasn’t done logically.
            The redhead opened the door for me, and I slid in. Nikki was already there, dressed in a business suit. At least it would have been all business if the silk blouse didn’t plunge almost to her navel, and the skirt featured a zipper on one side that allowed a lot of leg to show.
            I’m sure she zips it down and buttons the jacket for actual business, though. This is for me, a pretty distraction. And it is, too.
            She gestured to the couch opposite of her chair, then to the antique bottle of scotch on the table. It was unopened, which was odd. An older scotch should breathe a little before drinking.
            “It went well?” she asked.
            The question itself was odd, from her. Nikki was the world’s greatest flirt, especially with me, and for something as small as a proxy vote to take that from her was enough for me to pay full attention to the meeting.
            “Ruffled feathers. Confusion,” I said.
            A small smile.
            It stretched on for minutes. I studied her without studying her, resting my eyes on the scotch bottle, but taking in everything about her. But nothing was out of place. She was immaculately made up and dressed, as always. She was more enigmatic, today, sure, but she had spells of that.
            “Right. So I’ll---”
            “Ask,” she cut me off.
            “I don’t care,” I said.
            “Ask, dumpling. For me?” That small smile grew, and I could tell she was proud of herself. She had a scheme, and she wanted to gloat about it.
            So do I appease her or piss her off?


Monday, January 7, 2019

M³ Zeus Doesn't Tell

            So Zeus is capable of growth where the other gods are not. Zeus also has his eyes on humanity to be something special. After we factor in Prometheus, Pandora, all the heroes, especially Hercules and Diomedes, the guy has been planning something big. But why is he maneuvering behind the scenes? With Pandora he concocted the idea that it was all a punishment. Why?
He hid his involvement with heroes behind adulterous affairs, playing them off as nothing important beyond them being his children. He didn’t raise them or pay any special attention to them. Why?
Well, as we’ve seen, the Greek gods are pretty petty. They lash out and inflict horrible punishments on mortals for small crimes (poor, poor Teiresias). It’s just who they are. Not only that, they fight amongst themselves. If they’re not lashing out at mortals who committed crimes, they’re arguing with one another . . . and lashing out at mortals in the process. In that respect, they really are a family, as some of the worst fights in history happen inside of families.
Now, you’re Zeus (temporarily, so don’t let the power go to your head or other places) you have a plan. It’s a cunning plan. An intricate, cunning plan involving humanity that will take hundreds of years (maybe thousands), requiring constant nudging in the process. It’s very delicate. At any point, the whole thing could just collapse, and it’s back to square one.
Do you tell your family, who are fond of fighting with one another? Let’s not forget their habit of transforming and punishing humanity on a whim. What are the odds that they are going to think that this intricate, cunning plan is a good idea, especially since it favors what the gods consider to be lesser beings? What are the odds that they would understand this plan in the first place? I mean, I think Athena would get it, but I’m not confident about the others, especially Ares or Dionysus.
He doesn’t have a choice but to hide his plan because the others wouldn’t support it. They would completely screw things up because they can’t get along with one another or because they want to punish humanity. Zeus has to maneuver in unexpected ways, covering his tracks with other actions. In this respect, he’s absolutely brilliant. He disguises the creation of humanity’s role models with his own affairs, creating the illusion that he cannot control himself, that he is a slave to his own passions instead of carefully maneuvering things just right.
Pandora, including all of her godly gifts, will be a punishment to humanity because she’ll let loose the plagues that will ultimately teach humanity to overcome adversity, to rise to any challenge, up to the point that Diomedes can openly challenge gods on a battlefield.

Friday, January 4, 2019

F³ Maneuvers

            I had only made it a couple dozen steps away from the super-secret-clubhouse room in the Fairhaven Club before I felt a hand on my shoulder. I shrugged it off and spun around, fingers pointing at the young man and a hard glare.
            “I’m not one of the staff you go groping, pal. Hands to yourself.”
            He looked shocked for a moment, then became indignant as his partners flanked him.
            “See here, sir. I shall be reporting to Ms. Alexander that you violated—”
            “Shut it,” I said, sick of the man’s speech pattern more than anything else.
            “I voted how I was instructed to vote. You wanna go ahead and squawk to Nikki, feel free, but she’ll be more annoyed with you than me.” My eyes went back and forth to the three of them, all puffed up with righteous indignation. “Probably as annoyed.”
            “As instructed?” One of the men behind said.
            “Why would she . . . ?” Hansen began.
            “We are trying to---”
“I know what you’re trying to do,” I broke in. “And it might be a good idea, but it’s not my call. I voted the way she wanted me to.”
“I don’t believe you,” that was the first guy again.
“Fine. Take it up with her,” I began walking away.
“I shall have you thrown out of this club!”
“Great! Suits me fine!” As I stomped off, a buxom woman tried to take my arm, and I shied away from her.
You know, if those guys really wanted equality, they’d give the staff real uniforms and stop making them act like dolls.
The brunette gave up trying to latch herself to me, but followed a step behind.
I was on my way to the all brass escalator down to the exit when a slim redhead, unique for her lack of bust size, extended a note to me.
Room 8, Dumpling.
The note was in Nikki’s neat hand, and smelled vaguely of roses. I brought the note up to my nose. It was too subtle to be perfume.
I lifted the note, ready to crumple it in my hand, but didn’t. Crumpling it, dropping it, all would have been useless gestures as either the redhead or brunette would scoop it up immediately.
I pocketed the note, but was still prepared to leave the Club when I noticed that the redhead barred my way. She stood directly in front of the escalator. She stood there with a defiant lift to her chin that reminded me of Nikki.
She’s one of Nikki’s. Either hired by her or paid directly by her. I could get by her, but it would probably cause a scene and send stories buzzing through the place. “Oh, did you hear what young Allen did with the staff?” The young idiots would be scandalized and have me thrown out. The old boys would pat me on the back and give me a cigar. And Nikki laughing the entire time.
“Lead the way,” I growled.
I really hate the Fairhaven Club.

Monday, December 31, 2018

M³ Exceptional Zeus

            Having gone through many of the other Greek gods, we’ve come around to the idea that they’re pretty childish and static. They have petty squabbles and their punishments are often blown way out of proportion. So now we have to apply the same evaluation to Zeus. Is he childish and static?
            It would be easy to say that because he raped his mother and sister and that he’s such a hornball and pretty much raped everyone he ever slept with, yes, he’s childish. He’s got daddy issues and never learned how to have a proper relationship.
            (Yeah, you just knew there would be an exception.)
            Except for forging alliances with the Cyclopes and Hundred Handed ones. Except for forgiving the gods after their attempted coup. Except for the order he brought to the word by siring so many of the other gods and spirits. Except for putting hope in the jar. Except for giving humanity the perfect woman. Except for siring so many of the Greek heroes. Except for quitting his adulterous affairs cold turkey after the birth of Hercules.
            That’s a lot of exceptions.
            When we put them all together, we come up with a bigger pattern to Zeus. Did he have sex and rape lots of women? Yes. Are we okay with that? As a modern culture, definitely not. The Ancient Greeks, though, were simply looking to explain the world around them, which was a harsh world full of, well, rape and sex.
            In the process of all of this rape and sex, though, Zeus brought law even to the gods, fostered order through the universe, allowed experience and wisdom to temper the fire of knowledge, and gave humanity heroes to aspire to be. Zeus has had a plan this entire time, subtly moving pieces on the board to complete his strategy. This goes beyond cunning. He changes, freely.
He didn’t know beforehand that the gods would attempt a coup. He didn’t know Prometheus would steal fire. He didn’t know which woman he needed to sleep with to bring about Hercules. But he was able to adjust and respond to the situations as they presented themselves. He tempered his anger—which was legendary—with mercy, something the other gods and goddesses never did.
            Zeus is anything but static, and he clearly changes. This is a very big deal in a pantheon where the norm is childish behavior, but something we would expect from a king, who has to mediate and rule over the kingdom. He is doing this even though it appears as if he’s not, which is also a remarkable feat.

Friday, December 28, 2018

F³ WIP Scapegoat

            From the back, Reese mumbled and stirred.
            I slapped her leg through her jeans, hard. She mumbled a little louder and slowly blinked, asserting more control over her body.
            She sat up, looking at me. “Allen?” she said, unsure.
            “Yeah. What the blankity blank were you doing there?”
            Peripherally, I caught Nikki’s slight smile.
            “Blankity blank? Are you a grown-up?”
            “My use of profanity is not the subject. Explain.”    
            “I was after the story.”
            I opened my mouth, then closed it.
            What’s the point? She’ll just keep talking about the damn story.
            “How did you know where it was?”
            “I recorded your phone conversation on my tablet,” she grinned.
            Several curse words went through my head, all applied to myself.
            I better talk to Jen and Jessie about what all these gizmos can do. I am definitely not up on their capabilities.
            “Cute. Well, you should congratulate yourself.”
            “I am.”
            “Not on that. You went face-to-face with not just a fae, but with a wight, and survived.”
            She stared at me flatly. “Is that supposed to mean anything to me?”
            “Two supernatural creatures in one night!”
            “Three,” Nikki added.
            “Three, counting the will o’wisp.”
            Nikki threw me a sidelong glance. I knew what that was about, but I wasn’t going to bring her into the conversation.
            “A weird disco light, some anorexics, and a creepy stockbroker. Unless you meant the college kids peddling drugs.”
            “Matthew,” Nikki said, pointing out the windshield. “I believe your backup is on the way.”
            I looked, confirming the stream of vehicles in a tight line.
            I hastily dialed Collins.
            “I’m on my way!” His voice was faraway, on speakerphone.
            “You’re about to pass me. Pull into the gas station on your right.”
            “It’s over. They bugged out.”
            “You better have a fucking good explanation for this, Allen. Judge is going to have my hide, the department, too.”
            I smiled, “Not this time. You’ve got a great scapegoat.” I looked back at Reese.

Monday, December 24, 2018

M³ Diomedes's Hat Trick

            Diomedes rules! Yeah, I’m biased but the facts bear me out. The guy drove off not one, not two, but three gods from the battlefield, all in the same day. Show me another Greek hero who could accomplish so much? Achilles? He’s supposed to be the greatest warrior, but he’s sulking in his tent. Odysseus is a great thinker and did was the man against Polyphemus, but this is on a whole other level. Hercules? Sure, he did a lot, and is the paragon of what human beings should aspire to, but his trick with Atlas doesn’t measure up to driving three gods from the battlefield, injuring two of them. We also can’t let go that one of these gods is Ares, the god of War.
            Diomedes rules.
            Mic drop.
            Mic pick up.
            Yeah, I’m not done with Diomedes just yet. We have to deal with the question of why this matters. Yes, Athena is superior to Ares, but that’s something else. Athena’s involvement with Diomedes is minimal. She allows him to see the gods and leans in on the spear thrust against Ares, but that’s it. Diomedes does all the rest on his own.
            Diomedes was able to face off against gods and came out victorious. This is huge. Achilles gets all the glory, but Diomedes is the one we need to recognize for great deeds. This changes the very nature of the godhood for the Greeks. Before this moment, the gods were on a level far removed from humanity. Even when we have contests such as Arachne vs. Athena, the gods always have the power to beat the humans. Arachne might be a better weaver, but she is powerless against Athena’s other gifts.
            Diomedes, though, wins the day. Driving Aphrodite and Apollo from the field are lesser—though still great—accomplishments as their areas are not war. Ares, however, is at home on the battlefield, and should be able to best anyone in hand-to-hand combat. Yet Diomedes is the victor. And that’s an end to it. The contest has already been decided, and either Ares is powerless to go after him in another way, or not bright enough to think of it (50-50, I’d say).
            What this means is that mortals can challenge the gods on their own level. It’s also important that it is Diomedes to accomplish this. Achilles, Aeneas, Perseus, Bellerophon, Theseus, or Hercules would rob these deeds of their true importance. They all have divine blood. That connection to the gods would be the excuse that allowed them to engage the gods in battle. Diomedes, though, is completely human.
            Mortal parents and his own prowess are what gave him the victory. Not only has he earned the reputation for a terrifying war cry to opposing armies, but to the gods themselves, and Greek mythology is forever changed.

Friday, December 21, 2018

F³ Blood Feud

            Mikey sat beside me with my hat on, trying to look cool, and succeeding because fedoras are an inherently cool hat.

            “What?” I said in response to Nikki’s look.
            She slowly shook her head. “I made no judgement.”
            “Not out loud.”
            A small smile turned up one side of her mouth. “I concede the point. Fedoras are cool.”
            I didn’t trust that look, but I carried on.

            “So, sisters, huh?” I said.
            He nodded, causing the hat to fall over his eyes, momentarily.
            “Never had a sister. For me it was a brother. She do something to make you mad?”
            A shrug, which also somehow made the hat fall over his eyes again.
            “Yeah, I get that. Sometimes just existing is enough. But why the doll?”
            He didn’t look at me, instead just focusing on the back of the seat in front of him, his mouth a hard line that cracked, briefly. “She carries that stupid thing everywhere and shoves it in my face.”
            I chuckled slightly at that. “Kinda reminds me of my brother.”
            The kid still didn’t make eye contact with me, but that didn’t bother me.
            “I was on the other end, though. I had a hat, a lot like this one. Not as nice as this one since my mom made it for me, but it was my first hat, and I loved it. I thought I was so cool, like Indiana Jones or Sam Spade.”
            The kid didn’t give any recognition of the names, which didn’t surprise me.
            “So I played at being an archaeologist on an adventure or a detective on the case every time I put the hat on, shooting Nazis, swinging on my bullwhip over chasms. And I guess I annoyed my brother. He was always the bad guy since I had the hat. Only the hero gets to wear the hat, y’know? Finally, he had enough and stomped on the hat and ripped it into pieces right in front of me.”
            “What’d you do?” Mikey asked.
            “Oh, I was mad. Sure, I went to Ma and Dad, and they punished him, but it wasn’t enough for me. It was war. It was a blood feud. I stopped talking to him. Any chance I got I would wreck his toy cars when no one was looking—so I wouldn’t get in trouble. It lasted for months, even after Ma made me a new hat. It didn’t matter because he had wrecked the old one.”
            “Are you still mad at him?” Mikey’s voice had grown softer, as had his face, genuine concern that his sister might feel the same way about him.
            “I was ready to be hate him for the rest of my life, but six months later, he said he was sorry and gave me a new hat, one that he bought from a store. It also wasn’t as nice as this one,” I rapped the brim with a knuckle, “but it was one he bought. He saved up his money and bought it for me.”
            “Did you ever fight after that?”
            “Oh, sure, all the time. That’s what brothers and sisters do. But it was never a feud like that ever again. After a day or so one of us would apologize and we’d go back to being brothers. But you know what?”
            “For those six months when I was mad at him, I was lonely. I was just mad at him all the time. I was mad at him for ruining my hat and I was mad at him for making me mad at him. I was mad at him for not being there to play with. I just kept getting madder at him, and then I’d stomp on his cars.”
            Mikey laughed at that.
            “Yeah, now it’s all funny, but then I was just mad at him. I wished he hadn’t waited so long to apologize. I wish I had realized I was making him mad with my hat. I am glad that, together, we used fire crackers to blow up one of his old model cars.”

            “You led quite a destructive youth, Matthew.”
            “Doll,” I laid the 30s accent on thick, “you don’t know the half of it.”
            “Indeed. I shall have to come by more often for you to regale me.”