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Monday, December 30, 2019

M³ Evolving Woman

Throughout the Greek pantheon, we’ve seen evidence of stagnation, of an inability to change. Yet we just looked at story of Aphrodite picking up the craft of weaving. Athena invented this craft, yet Aphrodite became skilled enough to make Athena want to renounce her claim to weaving altogether.

Friday, December 27, 2019

F³ Story Time

I scooted over to the empty seat, letting Ginny take my seat as she climbed in with a copy of The Cat in The Hat. It was a perennial favorite, and I knew it pretty well. I held the book open and low for her to see the words as I read.
“‘The sun did not shine.’ It rarely did in the City by the Bay.”
Ginny looked at me, but didn’t say anything.
“With the fog thick as whipped cream and rain pouring down, ‘It was too wet to play.’”
Ginny gave a little pout. “That’s not how it goes.”
“Are you sure? It says right here, ‘It was too wet to play.’” I pointed to the line.
She frowned at me, but then said, “uh huh.”
I kept going, telling the real story.

“The real story?”
“Sure. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. I should know, I used to read it to Cassie all the time.”
The Cat in The Hat according to Philip Marlowe?”
“Sam Spade, actually. Marlowe was from LA.” I pressed the cookie cutter down, creating another gingerbread fedora, laying it on top of the man Nikki had cut out.
“You have a unique way of corrupting youth, Matthew.”
“It’s what I do, doll.”

Monday, December 23, 2019

M³ Working Woman

One day, Aphrodite got curious and started weaving on a loom. Eventually, Athena caught her at this. We all know Athena is pretty possessive when it comes to weaving. She invented the craft and turned Arachne into a spider because of it. So we can expect something will happen here. We want it to be a Catfight of Epic Proportions™.

Friday, December 20, 2019

F³ A Sap

In short order I had enough milk to contain the ginger inferno in my mouth, and Amanda brought enough to share with Ellie, too, who had moved from tears to snickers at my condition.
“One year I dared Leo to eat some raw ginger, and he acted the same way.”
“For reference, I would never accept a dare like that, and in the future I will always test any gingerbread men before eating so much of one.”

Monday, December 16, 2019

M³ Winning Is Everything

So Aphrodite cheats the court’s decision. No, she doesn’t flat out break the rules as that would not be allowed. The details of the case are that Adonis gets four months to spend however he wishes. Now if he chooses to spend it with one of the goddesses, that’s his choice, except when it’s not.

Friday, December 13, 2019

F³ The Danger of Gingerbread

I hustled into the kitchen, leaving Nikki in the living room. From memory I started gathering the things I needed.
“I didn’t come here for cookies, but for the rest of the story. I presume you are not finished.”
“Nope, that’s it.”
“You have not covered the danger of the gingerbread. Emotionally, yes, but no danger, as of yet.”
“Oh, that. Well, make yourself useful, then.” I pushed the canisters of flour and brown sugar her way along with the measure cups and a big bowl.

Monday, December 9, 2019

M³ Pretty Boy

So Persephone has the chest, and Aphrodite expects her not to open it, but we all know what happens when you give a box to someone in mythology: they open it. Okay, yes, Pandora didn’t open a box, she opened a jar, but we all know what we meant. Besides, squeezing an infant into a jar is just not practical.
On finding the boy, she raises him to manhood, which means Aphrodite has been gone for a while or the kid grows freakishly fast. After he’s a man, Persephone takes him on as her lover. Yeah, it’s kind of awkward, isn’t it? Even though Persephone is in no way related to him, she still raised him. So now we have a pseudo-incestuous relationship, here. Remember the side effects of parenting according to mythology? Yeah.
Anyway, Aphrodite finds out about this, and wants the kid back because she wanted Adonis for the same reason.
Does anyone else hear David Lee Roth’s cover of “Just A Gigolo / I Ain’t Got Nobody”? Just me? Well, okay then.
So Adonis’s only value to these two goddesses is for his body. It gets so bad that the matter actually goes to trial. Now, Zeus is a smart cookie, as we’ve seen, and what we’ve got here is a court case between two of his daughters, arguing over the man with whom they wish to cheat on their husbands with. Yeah, no way he’s going to get into that one.
He transfers the case (which is something he does quite frequently) to another court. Judge Calliope (of the Muses) gets jurisdiction. She more or less goes the Solomon route, here, dividing the year into thirds so that each goddess gets four months and Adonis gets time to himself, which I thought was considerate of Calliope to think that the guy might want some time to, you know, live his own life.
We are dealing with gods, though, and no story can end that simply. Aphrodite cheats.

Friday, December 6, 2019

F³ Powerful Memories

Mildred let me have a few gingerbread men. I passed a couple to Mikey’s mom as I returned to my seat. She had calmed Mikey’s sister into sleep on her shoulder. She mouthed a thank you to me and I smiled back. I set my remaining reward cookies on the tray table while I buckled in. Ellie was typing away at the laptop again.

Monday, December 2, 2019

M³ Stashed Away

So, yeah, it’s weird being born from a tree. But it’s Greek myth, what’re you going to do? As stated before, Aphrodite feels a bit responsible for the death of Smyrna, so she took the baby and locked him in a box. Perfectly normal thing to do, right? Mythologies around the world agree that this produces perfectly well-adjusted people, so you can throw away your parenting manuals.
Please don’t follow the advice of mythology on parenting.

Friday, November 29, 2019

F³ A History of Decapitation

I left Ellie, reluctantly because she still stared at the seat, for the front row that Amanda guided me to. There Mildred and Mikey were still working.

Monday, November 25, 2019

M³ Atypical Godly Feeling

So, there’s a baby born from a tree, whose name happens to be Adonis. Yes, the very good-looking Adonis, and we will get to the details of that particular story soon. Before that, though, we have to examine something very curious. After Adonis is born, “Aphrodite, already repenting of the mischief that she had made, concealed Adonis in a chest.”

Friday, November 22, 2019

F³ Sequence Break

“I haven’t been happy at home, much less happy during the holidays. It just seems so much more stressful, now,” she said.
“Was it always that way?”

Monday, November 18, 2019

M³ Love Is in The Air

Never, ever, ever boast about a trait or skill as being better than one of the gods. It’s a lesson that apparently bears repeating despite having been through this before. Unfortunately, the wife of King Cinryas boasted that her daughter, Smyrna, was more beautiful than Aphrodite.

Friday, November 15, 2019

F³ Fast Forward

“Holidays are tough. Leastways that’s what the modern image is, you know?” I said.
“What do you mean?”
“That it’s dysfunctional. People get together to supposedly have a good time, but there are fights or just nothing ever works out. It can never be Norman Rockwell, so it might as well be a sitcom of disasters.”

Monday, November 11, 2019

M³ Close Still Counts

Okay, so the thunderbolt was deflected, but that’s okay. Like with horseshoes, hand grenades, and tactical nuclear weapons, close counts with thunderbolts. The thunderbolt travels through the ground and hits Anchises that way. It doesn’t kill him, but it weakens his legs to the point he can’t stand on his own any more. He has been struck lame, even worse than Hephaestus.

Friday, November 8, 2019

F³ Matters of Lovemaking

“I’m always tired. Lately, just going home makes me more tired. There was one trip where I purposely extended the trip just so I wouldn’t have to go home, right away. I needed the extra day in a hotel just to rest because I knew when I went home we would get in a fight.

Monday, November 4, 2019

M³ Thunderbolt Aftershock

When you brag about sexually conquering a goddess, you can expect Zeus to be ticked off. He hurls a thunderbolt down at Anchises. Zeus, it must be said, is a good aim with his thunderbolts. They are his weapon of choice and has had to face down many titanic opponents (including his father) with them. He’s not going to miss. So it’s a safe bet that Anchises is a dead man.

Friday, November 1, 2019

F³ Instinctive Listening

“Leo and I have been having trouble. He doesn’t understand the pressure at work, I have. Every time I’m home it just seems like we start fighting. It’s just where I’m at right now, you know? It wasn’t even supposed to be my job, but the company laid off someone, and they need someone to do the job. I’m on my way home, this time, but I still have to teleconference and submit a plan, tomorrow.

Monday, October 28, 2019

M³ Mortal Love

If the affair was orchestrated by Aphrodite, well, she’s mostly satisfying her own lust, and possibly just emulating dear old (adopted) dad by chasing after mortals.
This particular mortal is Anchises, a prince of Troy. And whether it was Aphrodite acting alone or Zeus manipulating the chess pieces, Aphrodite eventually reveals herself to be a goddess to Anchises. She warns him, though, that he can’t tell anyone he’s sleeping with a goddess, or Zeus will get angry and strike him down.

Friday, October 25, 2019

F³ Filling The Void

I returned to my seat, smiling and nodding at Mikey’s mom. She looked skeptical, but had lulled her daughter into some semblance of exhausted sleep on her shoulder, and the baby was still asleep, so she didn’t say anything.
I picked up my book, ready to dive back in to Marlowe waxing on about blondes again, when the woman at the window seat spoke.

Monday, October 21, 2019

M³ Arranged Affair

Stories vary about the exact circumstances of this. Some say Zeus set up Aphrodite to fall in love, others say she chose out and seduced the mortal. If it was Zeus who set it up, we have to explore the exact reasons for this given how he called Hephaestus a fool.

Friday, October 18, 2019

F³ Reparation

We left the row, moving up to the first row where the grandmother was sitting, reading a large print book.
“Excuse me,” I smiled. “My name’s Matt, and this is my associate Mikey. We were wondering if we could get your help.”

Monday, October 14, 2019

M³ Sex & Marriage

Aphrodite will not be tamed, even by Zeus. He decided to give her to Hephaestus to try and keep her contained and to get Hephaestus to make him all the good toys, especially his thunderbolts. Hephaestus, inspired by Aphrodite’s great beauty, makes her legendary girdle, a belt woven of gold that enhances her beauty even more. It is so potent that, on occasion, Hera borrows the girdle so that she can entice Zeus into bed instead of going off and having another affair.

Friday, October 11, 2019

F³ A Cunning Plan

I hit the button for the flight attendant, then leaned over to get the attention of Mikey’s Mom, who was still cradling the infrequently sobbing girl.
“Mind if I borrow that?” I pointed at the doll and its head.
She gave the barest of nods.

Monday, October 7, 2019

M³ Seashells on The Seashore

After hitting the Bible pretty hard, let’s move on to lighter fare. I have been putting off a deep analysis of the goddess of love, Aphrodite. Every treatment I’ve seen of her in articles, film, and fiction has tended to treat her as somewhat vapid and very one-dimensional, but that portrayal is similar to many analyses of Zeus. However, like Zeus, when we look at the totality of her myths, a bigger, more revealing picture of her begins to emerge.

Friday, October 4, 2019

F³ Penance

“Matthew,” Nikki chided me, “I must protest your storytelling. While somewhat engaging, it seems as if you draw your stories out unnecessarily. This story feels as if it’s been going on for a year.”
I shrugged. “I can stop here.”
She glowered at me.

Monday, September 30, 2019

M³ The (Hebrew) Underworld

Jacob and Joseph die at the end of Genesis. Sorry, spoilers. We have an interesting passage at the end where Jacob dies, where he “breathed his last, and was gathered to his people,” (Gen 49:33). His people are not his family. They were already gathered around him in life, so what is going on with this description?

Friday, September 27, 2019

F³ Meat Jenga

The tornado warning had been just that, a warning, thanks to a little preventive management by me and Nat. Now we were lined up for some Kansas City barbecue. The KCQ Buffet was an awesome concept, especially for storm riders, but I doubted they would remain in business long since Nat and I were out to destroy their profit margin.

Monday, September 23, 2019

M³ Switching It up

Before Jacob dies, his last official act is to bless Joseph’s sons. Joseph presents them in order, putting the oldest on Jacob’s right, and the youngest on the left, which is the proper, traditional method of delivery such blessings. The oldest should receive the blessing first and the best blessing, yet Jacob subverts expectations once again.

Friday, September 20, 2019

F³ Spirits

Carl refused to buy, but we went to a local watering hole and grabbed something to drink. Apparently, Pyreans didn’t have the storm rider appetite, but they could drink any storm rider under the table. My metabolism was fantastic, but even I couldn’t keep up with Carl. He drank whiskey out of the tall glasses like it was beer.

Monday, September 16, 2019

M³ You're Adopted

Abraham was converted to the covenant via ritual. It was a bargain to be struck, but his offspring were born into it, as were Isaac’s offspring, and Jacob’s. The general rule has been that a wife must be part of the covenant in order to give birth to children who are in the covenant. Since Asenath is not part of the covenant, they must be brought in via ritual.

Friday, September 13, 2019

F³ Backstab

Carl leaped, and the lightning stuck, lancing down behind him, exactly where I wanted it, too. The blast hit six feet from where he had been standing, but it was still close enough that some watts went his way. More importantly, the blast of the lightning propelled him towards me, but he was no longer controlling his jump, not after the ear-splitting thunderclap washed over him.
Without concentration, his armor and sword faltered, and I launched a blast of wind at his feet that made him windmill as he tumbled to the ground. I held up a hand as walked over to him lightning dancing across my palm.
“Game, set, match,” I said.
“What?” he shouted. “You bastard! I can’t hear a thing!”
I let the lightning go and held out a hand. “Loser pays for lunch.”

Monday, September 9, 2019

M³ Family Reunion

So, after Benjamin is held in Egypt, the brothers go home and return with the rest of the family, including dear old father Jacob. Yes, there’s the typical tearful reunion, but it’s interesting we don’t have much in the way of recriminations for what happened to Joseph.

Friday, September 6, 2019

F³ Banter

Carl was irritated at my smile. That just reminded me how much of a short-fuse he had. It was a Pyrean trait, like Storm Rider sarcasm or Aquarian easygoingness. It’s hard-wired into our personalities, maybe part of what makes us who we are.

Monday, September 2, 2019

M³ Joseph's Trauma

Okay, Joseph, he’s been through some stuff. Like heavy-duty PTSD. His brothers beat and sold him into slavery, his boss’ wife tried to seduce him and cried rape, his boss sent him to prison, and spent two years longer in there than he should have thanks to the cupbearer he did a solid for. Sure, he came out on top, but experiences like that affect people for a long, long time.

Friday, August 30, 2019

F³ Pyrean Flaw

Carl stalked my way, in no hurry with his sword at the ready. I had no sword, which meant a classic duel was out of the question. Did have chain lightning at my disposal as well as any number of other nasty lightning attacks, and I might have to resort to them, but something was working my brain. I had noticed something about how Carl fought. When I jet along the ground to get away from him, something had clicked. I just didn’t know what, yet.

Monday, August 26, 2019

M³ Family Trauma

Okay, so what’s with Joseph? Why is he torturing his brothers and father like this? Why can’t he let bygones-be-bygones? Well, the simple explanation is that this story is very human. By that I mean we can’t expect people to behave in a strictly rational fashion. Emotions are involved, and they get messy, and we’re not just talking about Joseph’s emotions.

Friday, August 23, 2019

F³ Steam Bath

Carl didn’t waste any time, unleashing more needles of flame in my direction. I copied his move in my own way, unleashing a tornado-force blast of wind around me. By circulating it around me, I was able to take it back in, otherwise I would’ve emptied my tank.

Monday, August 19, 2019

M³ Joseph Puppet Master

Despite Jacob’s feelings, the reality is that there’s no food. The brothers need to return to Egypt, and they need to take Benjamin. Of course, it can’t be that straightforward as Joseph is really into manipulating his brothers.

Friday, August 16, 2019

F³ Balloon

I knew better than to think I had won. Carl had been doing his thing with fire for years, maybe decades. I only had a few years under my belt. Still, the bands were working, so I prepared some more to send out as well as some lightning that would flow along the bands like an electric fence.
Heat erupted out of Carl as he became the Human Freaking Torch in front of my eyes. The air in my bands superheated and exploded like a popped balloon. As quickly as the fire had come, it disappeared.
“Wow,” I said. It was all I could say. I hadn’t seen anything like it except in comic books.
“Next round,” Carl said.

Monday, August 12, 2019

M³ Jacob's Trauma

Joseph, still in disguise, is all too happy to sell the brothers food, although he does ask for a ransom of sorts. In order to know if the brothers are truly spies, he holds one back (Simeon volunteers) and asks that they return with their youngest brother Benjamin. He’s not heartless, though, as he returns the brothers’ money in with their sacks of grain.

Friday, August 9, 2019

F³ Constricted

I could’ve easily won by keeping my distance. Pyreans had nothing on Storm Riders when it came to fighting at a distance. Lightning would cross in an instant, too, no chance of dodging. But I wanted the close combat. I wanted to know how to hold my own up close, and without the home court advantage.
I pulled my board from around my back, and darted forward, looking a lot like the Silver Surfer from comics as I leaned in. Again, I avoided the lightning, not just because it felt like cheating, but because it tended to use a lot of my own energy. I could hold more wind than lightning, so I let the wind circle my fists in tight bands, weaving them into a pattern. It wasn’t solid, like my wall had been. This was something else.
Carl hadn’t been idle, though, getting airborne on his jets again. I didn’t see any kind of obvious attack, but I knew he had to have something ready.
My instinct said to make the first move, to blow him out of the sky and neutralize him before he could attack. I could probably do it, but that was Jack’s way. His words came to mind again from our training. “Hit first, hit hard, then hit the buffet.”

Monday, August 5, 2019

M³ Machinations

Joseph, his identity fully secured against his brothers, really kind of hams up the role, now. Which, as we’ve said, is really kind of a soap opera plot, so why not? He accuses his own brothers of being spies. Which, really, is not that much of a stretch when we consider things from a strategic standpoint.

Friday, August 2, 2019

F³ Burned

Carl recovered, quickly, tossing a couple of fireballs into the air.
Seems half-hearted. I know he can do better than that.
I used jets of air to dodge the fireballs, and gathered up the geyser’s steam cloud into a board shape behind my back. I’d be much more maneuverable on a board than cloud stepping.
Unfortunately, I found out what Carl was really planning. Instead of another fireball, He launched hundreds of fiery needles in a mushroom cloud towards me. Reflexively, I direct a jet of air in front of me, which knocked out some of the needles, but others slipped past the jet, lodging painfully into me, burning holes in my clothing.
“Point, Carl, douchebag.”

Monday, July 29, 2019

M³ Joseph in Disguise

Joseph does not reveal himself to his brothers. In fact, he goes out of his way to make sure that the brothers think he is 100% Egyptian. First, having lived there for at least 10 years, his complexion is probably more like that of an Egyptian. There’s probably not much change there, just a darkening of skin color, but, culturally, Joseph is very Egyptian right now.

Friday, July 26, 2019

F³ Fighting Fire with Fire

Carl was quick, throwing a fireball that splashed against my wall of air. When the flames cleared, he was jetting over it. He had kicked off his shoes and was doing an Iron Man impression. He was about to launch another fireball, but that was probably another distraction so he could get close.

Monday, July 22, 2019

M³ The Plot Thickens

The land of Egypt goes through the plenty and famine just as Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams. But, you know, funny thing, years of bad crops tend to be more than just local, and the land of Canaan is going through the same thing, which means Jacob and Co. are looking at hard times. Jacob, though, sends his sons, except for the new youngest, Benjamin, to Egypt to buy food. The word is that Egypt had plenty of food to sell during this time.

Friday, July 19, 2019

F³ Sparring

Yellowstone National Park was awesome, but I wasn’t hear for sightseeing. Carl was taking samples from one of the geysers when I landed.
“The fuck do you want, airhead?” He asked, looking over his shoulder.
“I’m hear to pick a fight, flamebrain.” There was no love lost between our elements.

Monday, July 15, 2019

M³ Dream Code

Up until Joseph, we haven’t had dreams. This is a unique method of communication for God when it comes to what we’ve seen so far. Most of the time, God has no problem openly telling people what’s going on, usually in-person. Occasionally there have been angels sent, but it’s always been verbal. It’s always been direct. For it to suddenly to become dreams seems weird.

Friday, July 12, 2019

F³ Book Learnin'

“Reilly?” Nat asked.
“What the hell are you doing?” she looked at me reading the giant textbook
“Studying.” I had to maintain a good grip on the book. Unlike me, it would fall straight through the cloud, and I didn’t want to have to go diving after it. Again.

Monday, July 8, 2019

M³ Dream A Little Dream

So the Pharaoh has had some troubling dreams, but none of the Egyptian priests and astrologers can interpret it for him. It’s at this time that the cupbearer finally remembers that Joseph is in prison. It’s been two years, but at least it wasn’t a lifetime. Still, the cupbearer should probably have taken some ginkgo, maybe then he wouldn’t have been in prison in the first place.

Friday, July 5, 2019

F³ The Case of White and Black

            The dame walked in looking like a million bucks, but she had a desperation to her that made me think she was going to cause me nothing but trouble. The click-clack of her high heels echoed through the office, as precise steps kicked at the agonizingly sunny skirt, but she didn’t say a word until she sat down in front of my desk.
            She leaned forward, cleavage lifting to the top of the dark blue blouse. “Can you help me?” she squeaked. It was enough to break crystal. There was nothing I could do to shut the noise out of my head, but I somehow managed a brief nod.

Monday, July 1, 2019

M³ Hard Time

So, Joseph is doing hard time for doing the right thing. Let that be a lesson to all of us. No, that’s not the lesson, because we’re in the part of the Bible where the lessons are more complicated and never presented so succinctly.

Monday, June 24, 2019

M³ Doing the Right Thing Sucks

            As I said, Joseph is moral to a fault, so he rebukes Mrs. Poitphar’s advances. She, however, is not moral in this regard. After more advances and even grabbing onto his clothes to the point that he had to leave them behind just to shake her off, she takes things to the next step.

Monday, June 17, 2019

M³ Culturally Acceptable Practices?

            We pick back up with Joseph. He’s a slave, which is a surprisingly common fate in the ancient world. Not selling people is a surprisingly recent idea, once that most of the world held as perfectly acceptable for many thousands of years. But I digress.
            We’re not sure of how much time passed before Joseph was resold to Potiphar. Probably just the time it took to get to Egypt, which could be anywhere from a couple of weeks to a few years (hold the Moses lost in the desert jokes until we get there).

Monday, June 10, 2019

M³ Mouthy Little Brother

            Why did Joseph deserve his beating? Not once, but twice he tells them about dreams he has where he’s going to rule over them. Older siblings really have no patience with the youngest mouthing off like that. I know, I was on the receiving end of some beatings for being mouthy. Not mouthing off like Joseph, but I still got beat. The mouthing off is just gasoline on the fire of the coat, too.

Monday, June 3, 2019

M³ Jacob, The Next Generation

            Okay, getting back to it, Jacob has 12 kids at the time of Joseph’s birth. And Joseph is, well, I guess a typical snot-nosed youngest brother. Yes, I get to say this because I, too, am the youngest.
            Unlike with Isaac and Jacob, Jacob dotes on the youngest. He is the favorite. So much so that Jacob gives him a coat of many colors. Now, in our modern view, we’re unimpressed because we can tie-dye many colors in a single shirt with easy. Dying clothing in ancient times, though, was not only time-consuming, but very expensive. This is a symbol of wealth and favoritism is ever there was one.

Monday, May 27, 2019

M³ Harsh World

            With each passing story in Genesis, the narrative is becoming more vivid and more visceral. The stories of creation, Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, and Noah are behind us when there were only allusions to horrors and almost always a clear-cut answer.

Monday, May 20, 2019

M³ Again, Rape Is Bad

            Okay, so, there are a number of similarities between the Bible and Greek mythology throughout, but this ain’t one of them. Genesis, with the story of Sodom and Lot’s daughters sends the message that rape is bad. In the first instance it’s the idea that raping and breaking hospitality is bad. In the second, it’s that incestual rape is bad. This time, there are no qualifiers. Rape is bad.

Monday, May 13, 2019

M³ If One Is Good, More Is Better?

            Okay, so we have to take a minute here to talk about the marriage thing. From Adam through Noah, we have monogamous relationships. One man, one woman, the end. Even Cain is only mentioned at having one woman, an unnamed wife (though some rumors and questionable sources name Lilith as his wife).

Monday, May 6, 2019

M³ Trickses on Jacob

            So, Jacob wins out over Esau. The most clever and deserving wins and takes all. Now down to the business of his own life, Jacob wants to settle down and falls in love with Rachel, the second daughter of Laban. In order to prove his worth, he serves Laban for seven years. Then, on what is supposed to be his nuptial night, Laban gives him Leah, the eldest daughter, not Rachel.
            This is why it’s important to have the lights on at first.

Monday, April 29, 2019

M³ Bucking the Trend

            So far, we have had Cain and Esau demonstrate to us that the first-born son is not always the best one. The Bible is very carefully starting a pattern, one that we will see continued with Jacob’s many sons. To the Hebrews, it is more important that the person most deserving, the one who works the hardest be the one to inherit, regardless of birth order.

Monday, April 22, 2019

M³ Half the Formula

            The physical portion of the birthright is set in tradition and law. It’s very contractual in its way. But it’s only half of what Jacob needs to ensure his father’s legacy and to safeguard his mother.
            Unfortunately, the other half is up to Isaac to bestow however he wishes. The blessing is a companion piece to the physical birthright. It generally follows the birthright, but it’s really up to the giver of the blessing (usually the family patriarch) to give it to whomever he wished.

Monday, April 15, 2019

M³ Protecting Isaac's Legacy

            Esau, due to his lack of skills as a hunter, and for not being around to tend to his father’s lands, really is not the best candidate for inheritance. With him, the land would likely just go back to wilderness, and the flocks would end up sold, slaughtered, or wander off. In the end, Isaac’s legacy would also dwindle to nothing under Esau. He would be a poor caretaker for everything.

Monday, April 8, 2019

M³ The Good Son

            It’s easy to vilify Jacob in this. I mean, it’s pretty absurd to sell stew for a birthright. Even worse to do so while his brother is hungry (although that’s the only time he’ll ever agree to that kind of discounted price, I’m sure). Jacob comes off as kind of predatory in this, and that he doesn’t care about family at all.

Monday, April 1, 2019

M³ Never Bargain when Hungry

            Esau the Hunter went out hunting one day, only he didn’t catch anything. The reasons why are not given, but it might be a clue to his general character, later on. He returned home to find his brother Jacob cooking a stew of some vegetables. Since he hadn’t caught anything, he was pretty hungry, so he asked for some stew.

Friday, March 29, 2019

F³ Force of Habit

Connor Reese, as he currently thought of himself, considered the patrons at the table at the far end of the concourse. They looked quite engaged in their conversation, but, frequently, the man with the slightly forked beard would check over his shoulders for potential eavesdroppers.
No chance of casually overhearing them. They may have even set up a short-range privacy field. It would be prudent, and what I would do if I were them. The concourse, is, after all, a public place, and even moderate audio filters are sufficient to isolate their conversation from the rest of the din.

Monday, March 25, 2019

M³ Playing Favorites

            It’s been a while since we’ve visited the line of Abraham, so we’ll pick back up after Abraham as passed, and we have Isaac with his two sons Esau and Jacob. This story is often looked at comically as a disagreement between two brothers, and—according to my students—Jacob is a bit of a jerk for how he treats his brother.
            But as with all things, it’s slightly more complicated than that.

Friday, March 22, 2019

F³ Secret of Success

            The takeout helped with the liquor, but I knew I’d be feeling the effects of the alcohol for hours, still. Kate and Richard sat on my couch, having a long talk. Richard appeared to be actually listening, which I considered progress given his earlier reactions.

Monday, March 18, 2019

M³ The Bad Ending

Red playfully—flirtatiously? —calls out the traits and submits to what will happen in the bed. This is a story about a girl wanting to be sexually active, who voluntarily removes her clothes for the experience. However, it is no less an assault as the story becomes violent. It is no longer a willing sexual encounter between two parties, but a rape. The wolf, then, really is two-faced as both a predator under the guise of someone that Red thought she could trust with such an encounter.

Friday, March 15, 2019

F³ Independent Confirmation

            Kate waltzed in without knocking, as I knew she would. I waved, and the room spun. I hadn’t had anywhere close to what Richard had drunk, but he was already showing off the storm rider metabolism.

Monday, March 11, 2019

M³ Matter of Trust

The disguise of the wolf is almost laughable. So much so that it’s hard to imagine the exchange between Red and the wolf as something to be taken seriously. It’s almost playful, as if Red knew fully well that this was not her grandmother the entire time. So why the deception at all? Why doesn’t the wolf simply eat Red in the forest? That would certainly be the most convenient for the wolf instead of risking Red go somewhere else.

Friday, March 8, 2019

F³ Sing Along

            I didn’t know how many drinks we had, but Richard and I had ended up singing a German drinking song Nikki had taught me. In between verses, he was telling me all about what had happened with the storm riders, Kate abducting him and taking him into the clouds, shooting lightning at him, Reilly throwing him off the cloud and them going into freefall for several minutes.
            “That’s rough, buddy,” I said.

Monday, March 4, 2019

M³ Put to Bed

The story carefully shows a civil conversation with the wolf, who is a known predator of the natural world, and he goes to great lengths to deceive her before devouring her. We have to ask, however, what is Red’s part in this? There is a line within the story in Perrault’s version that is most interesting as the wolf asks Red to “Put the cake and the little pot of butter upon the stool, and come get into bed with me.”

Friday, March 1, 2019

F³ Truth in Advertising

            Flynn looked over the ad, made to look like a government briefing on the latest piece of hardware, mixed with just enough marketing snark to take the dryness out.

Titan Industries Pulsar Cannon
            Normally reserved as a ship-to-ship weapon, pulsar cannons hold a spinning ball of ionized plasma in a magnetic bottle, then hurl it towards an enemy. The ionized particles wreak havoc with ship shields and armor. Miniaturization technology has finally enabled us to create a personal version of this weapon. Just like against ships, the pulsar cannon’s ionized plasma is ideal for use against armored targets, cracking and disrupting powered armors with little effort.

Monday, February 25, 2019

M³ Older than We Think

            Okay, so Grandmother is not related to Red. So what’s the deal here? Why is Red going to see her at all? The butter and cakes are probably legitimate, and most likely a payment for a service that Red wants done. But we need to know a little bit more about Red to figure this out.

Friday, February 22, 2019

F³ Wet Work

            I was bored, waiting. I had made Reilly and Natalie leave, and sent Kate to get some takeout. The guy, whose name they didn’t actually know, they simply kept calling him Moron, was still out of it. I hadn’t seen any signs of violence, but I knew the storm riders could pack a heck of a shock from their fingertips, so I didn’t rule out that they had knocked him out.

Monday, February 18, 2019

M³ Not The Grandma

            Yes, I know, the story calls her Grandmother so she has to be Red’s grandmother. The story is always right about such things. I can’t just say that’s not Red’s grandmother for no good reason. But I have good reasons. Honest.

Friday, February 15, 2019

F³ Tough Negotiator

            “No,” I said. I was kicked back in my chair, feet on my desk.
            Kate and the other three dripped despite the towels I provided. The man and the woman, both of whom looked familiar, had deposited the unconscious man on the floor unceremoniously. I thought it best not to ask.
            “I haven’t asked anything,” Kate said.
            “The answer is still no,” I said, pulling my feet off and slamming the seat on the
            “Come on, Matt, be a guy. Do it for the mystery.”

Monday, February 11, 2019

M³ Over The River And through The Woods

            I’m taking an interlude from both Greek myth and the Bible to revisit the fairy tale that is most on my mind. Little Red Riding Hood. I can’t explain why, but I’ve known there’s much more to this story than meets the eye, and I think I might finally have an answer.

Friday, February 8, 2019

F³ Uninvited Guests

            Belport’s weather was foul, fouler than normal, which generally drove down business. Jessie surfed the web while I enjoyed some Raymond Chandler, at least until the flash of lightning blinded me, followed by the thunder crack right above the building.
            “Oh no,” I said.
            “You say something, Boss?” Jessie called back.
            “Lock the door!” I jumped up, following my own advice.
            “What? Why?”
            “Do it! We’re closed; you got that? Just stay quiet and we’ll get through this.”

Monday, February 4, 2019

M³ Godly Natures

So the cosmos is at risk of repeating an endless loop of gods and goddesses undoing each others’ work due to their own petty obsessions, but there’s a bigger problem. The gods are specialized in nature. Artemis is goddess of the hunt, Apollo the sun, Demeter of agriculture, Poseidon the sea, etc. These specialized domains belong only to those certain gods. Yes, there is some overlap. Hera and Zeus both have prophecy. Apollo shares the hunt with his sister, and he and Helios share the sun.

Friday, February 1, 2019

F³ The Game

            “That’s a low blow,” I said. “Sincerity? That’s low.”
            “It’s not an act, not a lure,” Nikki looked scandalized without letting her smile slip.
            “I know. That’s why it’s low.”
            I sighed, trying to think of a way out of it, but nothing sprung to mind.

Monday, January 28, 2019

M³ Law vs. Chaos

Zeus made law (no one knows when because it’s only brought up in this story) that no god will be able to undo the actions of another. So, really, he can’t undo what Hera did.
Why make such a law in the first place, though? Most laws in the human world tend to form as part of a reactionary process. Bad things get done, then we finally get our act together and come up with something that says, we shouldn’t do this thing. This thing, whatever it is, is detrimental to society in some fashion.
With Zeus, we don’t see him set up very many laws. There is the law regarding messing with Hestia, the law of hospitality, and now the law about undoing the actions of another god. We’ve discussed the importance of Hestia and the law of hospitality with Odysseus and Polyphemus. We know that when Zeus actually lays down a law, it’s a big deal, like kind of universe-shaking deal.
This latest law we have is on the same level, and potentially universe-ending if not followed. As we’ve seen by examining the other gods, they’re not exactly the most thoughtful and stable bunch. They tend to follow their whims very easily, and lash out in the same way. They also struggle against one another using human proxies.
With Teiresias, Hera takes out her anger against him. With other gods such as Demeter, she lashed out against Erysichthon, causing him an endless hunger. Was it justified? Most of these transgressions generally are not by modern standards. If one of the gods felt that he had been treated poorly, he or she could have undone Demeter’s handiwork and that would be an end to it, except for Demeter’s ire. So what’s the harm?
If Zeus would simply undo what Hera did, what’s to stop her from re-doing it in the first place once Zeus isn’t around? The same goes for Demeter or Athena or Artemis. Where would this undoing and re-doing ever end? No progress would ever be made as everything would be trapped in an endless cycle of reversing the changes done by another.
The other reason concerns the nature of the gods themselves, coming up next week.

Friday, January 25, 2019

F³ Verbal Dancing

“So you were paying attention,” Nikki’s smile threatened to become Cheshire-Cat sized. “I should not have doubted you.”
            “I made that up on the spot,” I said, still looking at her leg.
            “Droll, Matthew. So, you’ve already deduced it all.”
            She sighed, and the smiled faded, too.
            “Nikki, I really don’t care about any of the politics in this forsaken place. If you’ve got a scheme for taking over or working in women through the back door, probably by slowly replacing the girls with your own people to listen in and blackmail people, fine. I don’t care.”
            “You know, Matthew, if you had the ambition for politics, you would do well.”
            “Never been my thing.”
            “Nevertheless, I could use your talents in the future with my endeavor.”
            “Not interested.”
            “I can make you interested.”
            “No, you can’t.”
            “Hmm, I’ve known you long enough to know that is probably true. There is nothing I could do to entice you?”
            “Nothing comes to mind.”
            “The noble cause of dismantling a sexist and archaic institution?”
            “And though you are quite interested in my physical features, I know you would not succumb to those charms if offered.”
            “Well, I wouldn’t put it in those terms as I would never wish to offend—”
            “Enough of your verbal dancing regarding my physical prowess.” She sighed, again, not the playful sigh from before or the exasperated sigh, this one was as close to real emotion as she ever gave. “I had hoped that we could be involved in a long-term project together. We only seem to collaborate when it is life and death. Where is the fun, Matthew?”
            I lifted my eyes from her leg to stare into hers.

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.

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