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Monday, July 16, 2018

M³ The Worst Bible Story—Ever!

            This story should come with a warning. Obviously this is a warning, but there should be a warning in the Bible about it. It’s horrible. I mean Game of Thrones Red Wedding kind of horrible. In fact, I think it’s worse than that. Strike that, I know it’s worse than that. This story makes Sodom and Gomorrah look like a ride at Disneyland.
            But you know what, most people don’t even know this story is in the Bible.
            Strap in, we’re going for a wild ride.

Friday, July 13, 2018

F³ Book of Secrets

            Nikki pushed a mismatched set of leather-wrapped, well, books, at me.
            I quirked an eyebrow at her, but instead of looking at me, she was looking at the books. Her expression was unreadable, but she was clearly focused on the books. These were important, and something big.

Monday, July 9, 2018

M³ Greek Civilization

            I have to go meta on Perseus one more time. We tie Perseus, Hestia, and Prometheus together one more time, and connect them all to Odysseus. I know, I know, it doesn’t seem like a good fit. Odysseus is not exactly known for restraint and wisdom, especially after mouthing off to Polyphemus. And it’s not like he was the poster child of monogamy when he’s shtupping Circe and Calypso.

Friday, July 6, 2018

WIP Conspiracy Afoot

            I poked at Mary Poppins’s picture on the TV. “It’s her. She’s your conspiracy.”
            “What? No. There’s no way corporate Barbie there could be behind this.”
            I grabbed the tablet, fumbling with it to go back to the wide display with all the notes. I pointed at the arsons. “She was the partner of the guy responsible. The same guy also made the serial killer from two years ago.”

Monday, July 2, 2018

M³ Perseus, Defender of Greekdom

            I’m probably going to catch some flak for this, but it’s not me, it’s the Ancient Greeks.
            How do we connect Prometheus, Hestia, and Perseus? Well, we already know that fire and the hearth go together. Worship starts with the hearth. But who tends the hearth? Women. Women are the absolute center of the Greek home.

Friday, June 29, 2018

F³ WIP The Missing Link

            Lindsey kept going on about various officials, bringing up events that I wasn’t even aware of—I tended to stick to my own concerns. She had zoning laws, chamber of commerce, non-profit organizations, and more all pointing to something conspiratorial about the upper echelons in the city. She brought up warehouses in Dante and Shoreward as possible locations for the incoming drugs, which matched up with what I had already been thinking. My mind swam as she kept going, her own logic compelling her to fill in all the gaps even though I thought she was reaching with a good portion of it, until—

Monday, June 25, 2018

M³ Hestia

            You won’t find myths about Hestia. I know, I’ve looked. I’ve scoured my resources. It might be easy to write her off because of this. There are no stories about her, therefore she’s not interesting. Conclusion: she’s not important. But the opposite is actually true.
            I’ve only found one thing about Hestia. Zeus decreed that Hestia was off-limits from all the shenanigans of the other gods. No one is allowed to mess with her. And, wonder of wonders, no one did. Not a single one of the other gods ever took action or said a word against Hestia, and the Greek gods are known for their in-fighting.
            I cannot overstate the importance of a Greek goddess who doesn’t get into any kind of trouble. But why did Zeus make his decree? An even better question is why did the fractious gods and goddesses abide by it? In a pantheon known for its usurpations, betrayals, and attacks, they left her alone. There’s not even mention of anyone thinking anything bad against her. She is, in a word, untouchable.
            Well, this is where we can make the connection back to Prometheus. Hestia is goddess of the hearth. She is the center of worship for the Greek home. Yes, the other gods have temples, but those are big ideals that are not felt in the same way as the personal nature of worship in the home. Now I’m not saying that people worshipped Hestia instead of Zeus, Athena, Poseidon, Aphrodite, or any of the others. Remember, this is a polytheistic culture. The Greeks were quite at home worshipping multiple gods.
            Hestia is included in the worship of any of the other gods or goddesses. This is mostly because of the structure of Greek worship. In most of the ancient world, Greece included, they made offerings to the gods on the fire. We know this most from the story of Prometheus with regards to the cuts of meat. The cuts of meat that are made for the gods are to be burned on the fire as an offering to the gods, kind of like a meat tithe.
            (Incidentally, the Old Testament is full of stories of meat offerings to God, most notably with the stories of Abraham and Elijah.)
            Because Greek worship requires the use of fire and the hearth, the first prayers and offerings are to Hestia, who watches over the home. Without the hearth and the home, the Greek people have no worship to the other gods. Zeus’s decree is about safeguarding the ability of human beings to continue to worship the gods.
            Right, we’re supposed to connect this back to Perseus. That comes next, I promise.

Friday, June 22, 2018

F³ Passenger 12D

            I waited in line to board. They took the usuals, first, elderly or others needing assistance, then families to get situated with their equipment and kids, first class and business people, then the rest of us, herded through the jetway like cattle to market. I didn’t like the analogy, but we trundled along in just that way.

Monday, June 18, 2018

M³ Home Is Where The Heart Is

            Perseus, as I have said before kind of gets a bad rap. As the gadget guy of the Ancient world, he sometimes doesn’t get respect. Also, there was that whole opportunistic purchasing of Andromeda thing. But! we have sorted that out and now realize the importance of Perseus’s actions regarding marrying Andromeda.
            But we have to now consider Perseus’s place in the overarching narrative of Greek mythology. I’m not talking about the foundation of his dynasty. That’s important, but ultimately predictable that other heroes would rise from his bloodline. No, we need to talk about women.

Friday, June 15, 2018

F³ Grav Dive

            The three of them huddled closely in the airlock, waiting for Ann’s countdown.
            Flynn said a silent prayer to the Celestials, first for his safety, second that he not embarrass himself by screaming or vomiting . . . like last time.

Monday, June 11, 2018

M³ Nuclear Disarmament

            While important, the whole episode with Andromeda has really been a sidequest. Perseus still hasn’t saved his mom from Polydectes. And, wouldn’t you know it, they don’t believe that a guy like Perseus could have possibly slain Medusa and taken her head. Therefore, “greeted by a storm of insults [Perseus] displayed the Gorgon’s head, averting his own gaze as he did so, and turned them all to stone.” Yeah, he went nuclear on them. It’s getting increasingly easier for Perseus to take the nuclear option.

Friday, June 8, 2018

F³ Mentorship

            “All right, Moron, let’s go!” I barked.
Instead of a nice afternoon with Natalie, I had to teach the new guy. He frowned at me as I stalked towards him.
“There’s no need for name calling. My name’s Richard.”

Monday, June 4, 2018

M³ Trouble with In-laws

            Remember that bit about Andromeda’s parents not allowing the marriage if Perseus didn’t negotiate first? Well, they even tried to break the bargain. In fact, they invited the guy they wanted Andromeda to marry, a man named Agenor. Andromeda’s parents even claimed that Perseus forced them into the agreement to marriage, despite Agenor having a prior claim.

Friday, June 1, 2018

F³ WIP It's Not about Drugs

            “You got an axe to grind?” I asked.
            Lindsey Reese leaned back in the chair, but she didn’t relax.
            “I always have an axe to grind: the truth.”

Monday, May 28, 2018

M³ Damsel in Distress

            Perseus, is he a shmuck or a hero? Join us in our investigation tonight on Behind the Greeks. Okay, I went to a silly place there, but this really is a major point we have to contend with. We have divergent ideas regarding Perseus. The whole gist of his quest was to save his mother from marrying another shmuck, but now to see him putting the screws to Andromeda’s parents paints him as being the same kind of person.
            What gives?

Sunday, May 27, 2018

FTBAR Reloaded

The excitement of last night at Phoenix Comic Fest short-circuited our FTBAR (Fairy Tales Beyond All Recognition) Panel, but we have been added back to the schedule! All interested can rejoin us for the final day of the Fest in 129AB in the North Building for FTBAR Reloaded. Please remember that this is an 18+ panel, and we're going to make sure it's a memorable send-off for Phoenix Comic Fest.

Friday, May 25, 2018

F³ WIP Leak

            I gestured Collins to the far side of the room, and dropped my voice. “Reese,” I whispered.
            Collins flinched. “What?”
            “Lindsey Reese.”
            His face hardened, and his voice was an angry whisper. “No. Do not fucking tell me to take this to the fucking press.”

Monday, May 21, 2018

M³ Opportunity and Bondage

            With Medusa’s head in tow, Perseus is nigh-invincible. He has some side adventures including accidentally killing his own father—Damn you Oracle of Delphi! But the big thing is when he’s flying around and he stumbles on a naked woman chained to a rock. Perseus, being male, is intrigued by this. But he does not fly down to rescue her. Instead, he tracks down the girl’s parents King Cepheus and queen Cassiopeia to get the story.

Friday, May 18, 2018

F³ Craving

            I walked through the market of the village, frowning. Smiling faces regarded me cautiously and they did their best to hawk their wares, but I wasn’t having any of it, right now. Nothing looked wrong with the food. The potatoes, carrots, turnips, mutton, chicken, beef, and more looked and smelled perfect. They were better than anything I had ever tried at an upstate farmer’s market, much less the local Korean grocery in Brooklyn. The Realms were like that.

Monday, May 14, 2018

M³ Nuclear Weapon

As said before, Medsua’s head is a nuclear weapon. It’s probably a 100 megaton warhead in an MX where every roll is a 10 and a shroom 6. For those who play Nuclear War, you know what I’m talking about. And for those who don’t, what are you waiting for?

Friday, May 11, 2018

F³ Proper Operational Footwear

            Flynn left the cockpit, pausing to change into more practical clothing before joining Eltie near the weapons locker. She was running final checks on her combat armor, which would make her just over two meters tall and strong enough to punch through five centimeter armor plate. As Flynn walked up, she turned and began handing him gear: tactical vest, grav harness, rail gun, and conventional slug thrower. Flynn would have preferred his pulsar pistol, but Eltie knew the mission requirements.

Monday, May 7, 2018

M³ Slaying Medusa

            There’s not a whole lot to add to this. Most people know the story. Perseus with sword and shield, stalks in after Medusa. He uses the reflection of his shield to keep from becoming petrified himself—which shows his cleverness—and slices her head off. Easy-peasy when you’ve got a Bat-shield, Bat-sword, and Bat-pouch. Hey, is any joke too far after the unfortunate Bat-credit card in Batman and Robin?

Friday, May 4, 2018

F³ WIP Drug Tested

            “So I guess I’ll go back to doing my thing,” I said.
            Collins shook his head and pulled out a folded piece of paper, handing it to me.
            “What’s this?” It was a lab report of some kind, but I couldn’t parse the particulars of the form. There were a lot of numbers, and very little in way of information that I could make use of.
            “The salt.”
            “Okay. Do I look like a scientist? What does it all mean?”

Monday, April 30, 2018

M³ Medusa's Unfortunate Circumstances

            Medusa is another of a long line of tragic figures in Greek mythology. She is 100% a victim, and a model for discrimination against women. She was once a beautiful woman, who was very proud of her hair. And Poseidon took note of this fact. And so he raped her.
            Wait, this isn’t the end of the horrors against her.

Friday, April 27, 2018

F³ WIP Mapping Criminal Intent

            After dropping Cassie off with Jessie and Jen, I went straight to the precinct where Collins was actually more cheerful than I usually saw him. We stared at a big-screen display showing a map of Belport. Overlayed on the map was a dashed yellow path that looked like something that Billy from Family Circus might leave as he wandered about. Instead of Billy, the legend at the bottom indicated that it was the path of Kevin Washburn. There was a picture of his face next to the name, and I recognized the dealer that Jen and I had met at DeGradi.
            “First time I know his actual name,” I said.

Monday, April 23, 2018

M³ Bat-Perseus

            This is how I used to refer to Perseus in the before-time. Perseus is one of the first Greek heroes (if not the first) who will go on to found an entire dynasty. And so he gets special treatment.

Friday, April 20, 2018

F³ Ann's Nobility

            “Oh, flare me. You’re going to do something noble, aren’t you?” Ann hung her head over her console.
            “No! Okay, I understood in the Reach. They were enslaved and Constantine was an ass, but we owe nothing to these people. Why do you want to help them?”
            “Whatever else you may think of the people of the Consortium,” Reese answered, “they believe in paying their debts. Always.”
            “You mean we can get a reward out of this? Right. Let’s go save the Connies. Mama needs an upgrade.”

Monday, April 16, 2018

M³ Standing up for Mom

            Acrisius, because he’s a jerk like nearly all other Greek monarchs faced with this kind of decision—and it’s does happen often (never go to Delphi!)—banishes his daughter and infant grandson. Okay, banish is not exactly the right term. He locks them in a box and shoves them out to sea.

Friday, April 13, 2018

F³ New Guy

            “Why are we here, again?” I asked. “Here” being hanging over the skies of Yellowstone National Park with Natalie.
            “We’re waiting on Kate.”
            “Sounds like the beginning to a bad joke.”

Monday, April 9, 2018

M³ Where There's a Zeus There's a Way

            I know I’m not done with Arthur, but I need a break from him. One of the reasons why I have always shied away from him for M³ is simply the massive scale of his mythology. Multivolume books have been written about this stuff. That and most of it is thoroughly depressing. So we’ll try something more fun for a bit.
            Let us turn our attention to the myths of Perseus! Like all great Greek heroes, Perseus has a birth story where Zeus—
            We interrupt this M³ for an urgent warning.

Friday, April 6, 2018

F³ WIP A Boring Job

            “I’m just going to drop you off, okay Short Stuff?”
            “I got a call from Detective Collins about the case. I need to go into the station and talk things over with him.”
            “Oh. Okay. Um, Uncle Matt?”
            “That stakeout last night, is that what your job is like most of the time?”

Monday, April 2, 2018

M³ Ladies of The Lake Are Trouble

            Yeah, I know, I’ve been really going off on the Ladies of the Lake for a while, now. But they change the entire landscape of the stories. Not only that, they’re not in Monmouth’s account. The Ladies of the Lake come into their own in Mallory’s story, and they’re huge. How huge? Killing Merlin huge.

Friday, March 30, 2018

F³ Seller's Market

            “Captain, I believe there’s a problem.” Reese said, throwing the market values to the main screen as a HUD overlay on top of Ann’s navigational course.
            Flynn looked at the numbers for several common shipboard weapons systems.
            “Those are high, aren’t they?”
            “Captain, the prices are double what they should be.”
            “Double? Why would they be that high?”
            “Because, right now, there is a very high demand for them.”
            “Oh, flare me,” Ann sighed.

Monday, March 26, 2018

M³ Faerie Adoption

Remember when I said this was a binary mythological system, and had been for hundreds of years? That’s true. Remember how that implies that there’s nothing outside of that? Yeah, that’s not strictly the case. See, no culture is completely isolated. Even in the ancient world, cultures impinge on one another, fiercely. This is more true with England, Scotland, and Ireland than other mythological frameworks.

Friday, March 23, 2018

F³ Pat Down

            The pat down by TSA guard at airport was more or less routine. He explained how he was going to pat me down using the back of his hand in an angry, guttural voice. The anger wasn’t directed at me so much as it was that he was required to do this.
            Wonder if they have a quota? Pat down X number of travelers per shift or you’ll be reprimanded. That would suck.

Monday, March 19, 2018

M³ Mobsters of The Medieval World

            Okay, so faeries. Notice the spelling. These are not fairies from fairy tales. This isn’t Tinkerbell, a fairy godmother, or anything like those stories. Thanks to modern storytelling and the marketing strategy of Jake and Will Grimm, those are happily-ever-after stories. Those fairies are nice.

Friday, March 16, 2018

F³ Home Improvement

            The pizza oven and water heater kicked off a desire for more home improvement. And one piece of home improvement topped the list more than any other. Unfortunately, it required a lot of know-how. And, really, how often do you think about how your toilet works?
            While porcelain ceramic was the standard, I didn’t have access to that kind of material. Pottery was a second choice, but we were talking a lot of pottery, and I didn’t know if it would hold up.

Monday, March 12, 2018

M³ Moistened Bint Lubbing a Scimitar

            Ah, Excalibur. The sword is almost as famous as King Arthur. It is the modern template for heroic weapons. Of weapons with a name, it is at the top of the list when it comes to recognizability. Other weapons have had names before it, but Excalibur reigns supreme.

Friday, March 9, 2018

F³ Fund Raising

            “And how much have we raised?”
            “Eight thousand, Captain. The going is quite slow because we are operating without a proper license and are subject to high taxes.”
            Ann swore under her breath, for which Flynn was grateful.
            “And our supplies?”
            “On that front, we are on better standing. Consumer goods aren’t as heavily taxed, and food not at all. Also, Hank has been able to make thorough headway on our repairs.”
            “Meaning he hasn’t blown us up, yet,” Ann said flatly.

Monday, March 5, 2018

M³ Fate Is in The Air

            While the Greeks and Romans had personifications of fate in their mythologies, Christianity does not. However, the mindset still does not allow for free will. Redubbed predestination, the idea is that God knows everything, past, present, and future. For that to be the case, then everything has already been written. Nothing can be changed. There is no choice.

Friday, March 2, 2018

F³ WIP Breakfast

            The next morning, I was in the middle of making pancakes when I got a call from Collins.
            “You like pancakes?” I asked.
            The question short-circuited his train of thought. “What?”
            “Pancakes. Hot cakes. Flapjacks. Butter and maple syrup.”
            “Blueberry syrup.”
            “Barbarian. Blueberries in pancakes are fine, but you have to have actual maple syrup.”

Monday, February 26, 2018

M³ Devilish Origin

            Not only could devils have sex and children, they did so all the freaking time. What can I say, they were horny (rimshot). The same asceticism that turned angels into beings incapable of sex hypersexualized the devils and demons. Copulation with devils and demons became one of the favorite methods of denouncing anyone different.

Friday, February 23, 2018

F³ WIP Delusions of Mediocrity

            “It doesn’t work like that.”
            “And how does it work? Magic?” The scorn in Reese’s voice came through loud and clear.
            “What autopsy?”

Monday, February 19, 2018

M³ Angelic Origin

            So there might have been a simpler way to give Merlin power: angels. Merlin—and Arthur, for that matter—could be the son of an angel. It certainly would have simplified the entire process. Arthur’s divine mandate could come from his angelic heritage instead of from a sword in a rock.
            So why didn’t it?

Friday, February 16, 2018

F³ Security

            The security line was a couple hundred feet long, moving like a drunk caterpillar’s legs. I felt naked, too. My gun, my bullets, my knife, and even my flask were all at home. I couldn’t take them on the plane. If any of the supernatural types wanted to off me, airport security was the perfect place. But I didn’t have a choice. I couldn’t very well drive to Florida. There wasn’t time before Christmas and I didn’t think my Taurus would handle the trip.
            In front of and behind me, holiday travelers talked and texted away on their phones when they didn’t have to wrangle their children into shape. I was the oddball with physical paperback books.

            “Let me guess,” Nikki interrupted. “Your precious pulp detective books?”
            “you know, you gave me grief for interrupting the story last time. I was on a roll. But, yes, I had a couple of Chandler’s best Marlowe novels. I also had some other stuff, work related.”
            “Oh? Some ancient codex of ancient mythology revealing the secrets of the universe to you?”
            “Not exactly. I had a book of fairy tales for Cassie.”
            Nikki cocked her head with a wry smile. “Isn’t she a little old for such stories?”
            “Oh, these weren’t the watered-down versions in animated movies. These were the real deal. If my Ma knew what was really in those stories, she’d freak out.”
            Nikki let out a long laugh. “Corrupting your niece. Not exactly the Christmas spirit.”
            “I know! It’s why I can’t understand Nick’s gift. Anyway, where was I?”
            “The airport.”
            “Right. So, I don’t enjoy being ‘randomly’ selected to be patted down, but it happens all the time. . . .”

Monday, February 12, 2018

M³ Thoughts on Merlin's Origin

            As a student on superhero stories (comics and movies), I appreciate a good origin story. We all want to know where the hero came from—though I thank Marvel for skipping a third version of Spidey’s origins on the big screen (please do the same for the Fantastic Four now that they’re back!).

Friday, February 9, 2018

F³ Odd Jobs

            “Mr. Reese,” Flynn intoned with all the warmth of vacuum, “explain it to me again. How is it that we are unable to trade cargo in the Consortium?”
            “You flaring listened to a flaring liar, that’s how.” Ann didn’t bother to mask the contempt from her voice. She sat at her console forward of Flynn, plotting the entry path to the moon’s atmosphere. Her dark hair hung in loose curls to her shoulders. Since there was no expectation of combat, she hadn’t bothered to braid it or put it up.

Monday, February 5, 2018

M³ Young Sir Arthur

            Book VII of Le Morte D’Arthur describes Arthur’s coronation. What’s interesting here is that he “took the sword between both his hands, and offered it upon the altar where the Archbishop was, and so was he made knight.” Most kings don’t get knighted. They’re crowned, and that’s an end to it. With Arthur, the idea of knighthood is inextricable from his character. This is not merely a king, this is a knight-king, who holds to the chivalric code, someone of divine character.

Friday, February 2, 2018

F³ Paranoia

            I was getting ready to turn in, at midnight, when I got a text from Lindsey Reese, reporter for the Belport Clarion.
            “What’s the story?”
            I dialed her number.
            “Are we really doing this over the phone?” I said, relaxing into the couch.
            “You don’t want a record of it?”

Monday, January 29, 2018

M³ The Stuck Sword

            After Arthur was born, he wasn’t raised by his father and mother. Instead, he was raised by Sir Ector, and his foster brother was Sir Kay. Those familiar with Disney’s The Sword in The Stone will recognize the names. In fact, Disney does a heck of a job when it comes to the whole pulling of the Sword in the Stone.

Friday, January 26, 2018

F³ WIP Strange Favor

            I was exhausted from the events of the day, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep, so I called Nikki.
            “Matthew,” she sounded tired. “I’m pleased to hear from you. Our earlier conversation was . . . terse.”
            “Yeah. Wanted to let Cassie process things and just have a normal night.”
            “I understand. Are you well?”
            “I guess so. I don’t like to cut it that close, you know?” I went into my room, and grabbed the box from Max’s stash. I hadn’t exchanged it for anything else, but I would, soon. But now I had a reason to go through the items again.
            There was a pause.
            “Nikki? Did I lose you.”
            “I’m here,” she said softly. “I’m sorry, Matthew.”

Monday, January 22, 2018

M³ Arthur Son of Uther

            The story of King Arthur begins properly like most hero myths, with his birth. The birth of Arthur is of typically mythic proportions, with plenty of the supernatural involved. While most heroes receive the divine treatment—most commonly due to Zeus—Arthur can’t go this route. Christianity has well and truly spread across Europe, even into the far reaches of once-Celtic Britain, and it would be blasphemy for Arthur to be sired by God. It can’t happen.

Friday, January 19, 2018

F³ Things Get Heated

            The town blacksmith was baffled as to why I wanted a metal barrel, especially one that was watertight. It took him weeks to get it done, and he went on to tell me about how he had to fold the edges of sheets together and then hammer them into a single piece as he bent the barrel around. I blacked out halfway through the explanation, but nodded and gave the appropriate ooh and ahh to recognize the greatness of his accomplishment. Compared to that, casting pipes of molten copper had been simple, but he had come through for me.

Monday, January 15, 2018

M³ Prelude to Arthur

            All right, by request (thanks a lot Jay), we’re going to be delving into King Arthur. Before that I have to give some background (and rant a little). The farther in time we go, the more records survive. It’s just the nature of the game. Precious few sources from Ancient Greece survive. We do have differing versions of some stories, but these are the result of geography, cultural assimilation, and transcription of oral tradition.

Friday, January 12, 2018

F³ WIP Grounded

            I hadn’t expected Nikki to be in the office when I got there, but she sat on the edge of Jessie’s desk in a brand new business suit identical to the one before. She had also fixed up her hair. Jen was there, too, and the four women had been laughing at something on Jessie’s computer screen, but conspiratorially went quiet when I came in.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018


            During NaNo, I started including snippets from my WIP to keep what remains of my sanity, and to speed up the writing. However, what started as a shortcut has since become a good idea. I’m going to make sure I include at least one snippet from my WIP every month (maybe more than that). This way I don’t have to wrack my brain for a new piece of F³, but also to keep me honest and working on that WIP throughout the year.

Monday, January 8, 2018

M³ The Good Role Model

            The Greeks did the same thing with Hercules as the Israelites did to Samson, but with an important, and very interesting, twist. Whereas the Israelites look at Samson as being culturally different and bad, since he was a murdering, fornicating, failure, the Greeks view Hercules’s traits as desirable. Yes, Hercules had some stumbling blocks in that some of his labors didn’t count, but that was more due to Eurystheus being a real jerk about the whole thing.

Friday, January 5, 2018

F³ Curiosities

            When the coffee started to flow through my veins, vigor flowed back into brain cells dormant from the Christmas sleep. Nikki sat at my small dining room table watching me, patiently.
            “I don’t get it,” I said finally.
            “What is there to get?”
            “Oh, well, you can have m—”
            “Not that! I mean the hat. Why are you so curious about it?”
            “I’m not curious about the hat, exactly.”
            I sighed, taking another sip of coffee. When I looked back up, she still had that patient look. “Then what are you curious about?”
            “Do you know, Matthew, the sheer number of experiences and stories I have? For centuries I have flitted about this planet experiencing nearly everything the world has to offer. I have been a member of court, a simple washer-woman, a goddess, a consort, the object of immortalized art, and more.”
            “Mazel tov.”
            She ignored that. “In all of that time, I have heard wild superstitions about Nicholas, but nothing concrete, until you. Two different holidays I have received gifts from the man whom I thought was nothing but children’s fantasy, and you now have a hat from him. You will be employed by him. You have given me a curiosity, which I cannot turn aside from.
            I pointed back to the couch, taking time to mull that over as we walked back.
            I could make a remark. I could be sarcastic about it, but she is genuinely intrigued.
            “You know I don’t understand everything about what’s going on, right?”
            “That lack does not prevent you from deducing the proper course throughout your profession.”
            “I get it wrong, sometimes.”
            “Yet you are still alive, a testament to your ability.”
            “Okay, here goes. I was flying back to Florida for Christmas. . . .”

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Ten Minute Rule

            Last NaNoWriMo was brutal. The combination of grading so many essays and trying to meet the rigors of 1667 words a day almost broke me. But I survived. And I learned an important lesson. 1. Writing at restaurants is a good thing (though expensive). 2) The 10 minute rule.
            For those who have never graded, it’s a grueling experience, and one that easily saps the will. I used to do long grading sessions of multiple hours, powering through what needed to be done, and then crashing into a stupor. I barely had the presence of mind to sit mindlessly through Netflix binge sessions. But I couldn’t do that if I wanted to make it through NaNo. I had to find a way to get the grading done, but leave enough of my soul for writing.
            The idea was simple, switch on and off. Ten minutes of grading followed by 10 minutes of writing. I set a timer on my phone, and go. The only alteration to the rule is that I finish the essay I’m grading and the paragraph I’m writing. Then I switch.
            Not only did I survive NaNo, I’ve been able to (somewhat) keep up the habit. With some more work at it, I should be able to make this a permanent change.

Monday, January 1, 2018

M³ The Bad Role Model

            So our 2nd theory about Samson and Hercules is that they are both based on a common figure, and put their own spin on the story. But that also doesn’t quite match up. The spin they should put on the story is that reflecting what their own culture values. Odysseus’s greatness was readily acknowledged by Muslims, but they needed to reframe it to be beneficial to their own culture.
            But Hercules and Samson are the opposite. Samson has more in common with Odysseus than Abraham. The same is true for Hercules, who submits to authority, is humble, and is repentant. It’s like they crossed the streams—"Egon! You said crossing the streams was bad!”
            So what’s going on?
            For all the cultural differences, the Mediterranean is actually a very tiny place. It’s a short sail from Greece to Israel, even hugging the coast. It’s even closer than Egypt! This isn’t to suggest that they were big-time trading partners. But the stories that would spread because of trade all around the Med are the point.
            Word of a super-strong warrior (blessed by the gods) would have spread. Israel would have heard this story, and had to contend with its cultural ramifications. But warrior heroes are not the way of Israel’s culture. Sure it has its appeal, but in the end, combat is not their way. They value heroes like Abraham, Joseph, and Moses, all of which share common traits within the culture. Theirs is the role that needs to be emulated, not a muscled-bound oaf who fornicates and murders. The Israelites use the story of Samson to demonstrate that such a path does not work. Did he kill the enemies of Israel? Yes. Did he do so in a way that reflected the values of the culture? No. And, besides, Moses had a much higher body count, got out alive, and rescued hundreds of thousands of Hebrews all by following God. Samson really only made more trouble.
            What about Hercules? Next week.