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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.

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