Monday, May 30, 2011

Athena's race

Athena is having to race against Pallas, another immortal.  They have to wear full armor and weapons as they run.  

  
       More laps passed.  Athena was midway through a straight portion when she noticed Pallas doing something funny again.  She was pulling one of her tridents off her back as she finished the curve ahead.  Getting ready for more humiliation, Athena assumed the tall girl would now put on another burst of speed, showing how fast she could run while holding a large object in one hand. 
        The trident tore through the air, barely two cubits in front of her. 
         Athena came to a dead stop.  It had been an incredible throw by Pallas.  Horribly fast and accurate, the close pass by the trident was meant to startle her and slow her down.  But even worse, Athena had stopped. 
         “Come on!”  She made her feet start running again.  Ignoring the image in her mind of the points of the trident penetrating her skin and then pulling out a gobbet of flesh when jerked out, she had to regain her former speed.  It was quite a burst of her own she put on, and she felt the bronze pleats bapping her thighs through the leather apron.  She hoped her leather shoes wouldn’t tear from the exertion. 
         She allowed herself a brief glance after going around the curve.  Pallas was over half a lap ahead.  Athena shouted at where the Olympians were sitting and standing.  “A foul!  A foul!”  She pointed at Pallas, her upper arm touching her own hot bronze. 
Zeus spread his large hands, palms downward.  “You were informed this wasn’t just a race, but about running in combat.”  His voice held no sympathy.  “No foul.  No foul.” 
         Athena’s face grew hot, and it wasn’t from the desert heat.  They knew.  They knew that making them run with spears and tridents would end with their throwing weapons at each other.  

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Just Plain FUNNY

A German newscast tried to show the seal of the US Navy Seals, which took out Osama bin Laden.  Instead, they mistakenly showed a fan-created Star Trek seal for the fictional Maquis freedom fighters!

(Notice the eagle, phaser, and trident on top.)  I could easily find the real symbol for the US Navy Seals online on my first try.  How many different kinds of stupid is this news station?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Volcano Dream

I had a dream last night.  I strongly recommend that all of you write down your dreams.  This one was the result of childhood memories of a book on snakes, discussions on the Greek language, my posting excerpts from my historical fantasy manuscripts, the name Cruz coming up at work, and the recent anniversary of the Mount St. Helens eruption.

Photo by kballard

             We were washed up on a Pacific island.  A blonde girl was caught by a boa constrictor in the jungle.  I shot it with a handgun. 
              Another guy dragged her free.  The boa was still alive, still dangerous.  The other guy and I used sticks to drag it from the trees.  The thickest part was half as big as a telephone pole.  I shot it in the head. 
              The scene shifted.  I was on a soccer field, watching a church youth group.  They were playing a game similar to soccer, but they were using their hands instead of their feet to pass around a ball about the size of a handball.  It looked complicated, so I decided not to participate. 
              I sat in the backseat of my car, writing more on a historical fantasy manuscript, set in Greek mythology.  After a while, I noticed Tom Cruise was watching me through the back window.  I set aside the manuscript and lugged a huge reference book on either the ancient Greek language or ancient Greek mythology from the floor of the car onto the backseat and opened it.  He watched, fascinated, as I looked something up. 
              Tom Cruise was so intrigued, he opened up the back window, as if that part of it had a mini-hatchback design.  While I was looking at him, I saw a massive gray column rise in the distance.  I realized a volcano was erupting.  Gray ash began raining down, and some of it floated into the car.  I pointed out to him what was happening, but he was so drawn to my studies, he was oblivious. 
              I woke up.  I felt my body trembling, so I assumed a minor earthquake was going on, and that had influenced the last part of my dream.  It was so convincing, I originally titled this dream, “Earthquake Dream.”  I now have to conclude I was shivering.  So maybe that caused the volcanic eruption to intrude.  

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The End of the World . . . Again

Harold Camping and his nutcase followers are predicting that Jesus will return this Saturday, May 21, 2011.  At first they said he would return at 6:00 pm.  Then they recently changed their minds and said it will be 7:00 pm, to adjust for Daylight Savings Time.  

The Last Judgment, by Michelangelo  

Camping is the author of the book 1994, which predicted the world would end that year.  (He was wrong.)  This sort of nonsense is extremely offensive to Christians, especially since Camping told his followers to flee the churches.  After the day and the hour pass, I'll shave my beard off to celebrate my still being on earth.  

Michelangelo's The Last Judgment is one of the few portrayals a of a beardless Christ.  The saved are on his right hand, the damned on the left.  Wonder which side Camping will be on?  

What's hilarious is the Terminator movies, which I never watched, have robots wiping out mankind on April 21, 2011.  So they were a month early.  In a later post, I'll review the TV series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Athena and Perseus Argue




Athena and Perseus have stumbled upon people in the desert sand that the Medusa and other Gorgons have turned to stone.





     “A family.”  Athena was disgusted.  “They killed a family.” 
     Perseus gestured at the other figures.  “Athena, all these are facing away from the Gorgons.” 
     “As if fleeing.”  She thought deeply.  “They do not turn to stone instantly.  This man was carrying the child as they fled.  The Gorgons do something to them to start the process of hardening, then the victims try to get away.” 
     “‘Start the process.’  You mean something different from just their ugliness?” 
      “No matter what, use the reflection in the shield to look at them.  I’m not sure what is happening.  My thoughts on this are incomplete.” 
     “My mother once told me of a man who was bitten by a snake, and he became stiff, as if made of wood --” 
     “Did you go deaf?”  Athena was angry about the dead family, angry about secrets held by her fellow immortals, and angry about her inability to control this young man.  “Do not ponder your way into doing something unsafe.  I didn’t pluck you off the island of Samos so you could think your way into trouble, instead of listening to wisdom!” 
     “You didn’t choose a man who was deaf, or unable to think.  I can do both!”  His cheeks tightened with anger.  “Why can’t I listen to your wisdom as you talk out loud, and we both begin to draw the same conclusion?” 
     “Because we’re approaching danger, that’s why!” 
     “Oh, is that why I brought this weapon?  I thought we were approaching some paved fountain in the desert with little children skipping around.”  

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mary Robinette Kowal

At Norwescon, Mary Robinette Kowal gave many tips on how to read a manuscript in public.  Her website gives many more tips, if you click on Fiction, then Reading Aloud. If you want something practical, this is it.  Also, it has fun stuff on puppetry, which is her day job. 
 © 2010 Annaliese Moyer

Three of her tips apply to public speaking in general: 

1) A good public reading speed is 150 words per minute.  Pick a passage that has 150 words.  Use a timepiece with a second hand to time yourself.  You might be surprised at how fast you read.  Practice this speed, and you’ll be able to maintain it in public. 

2) Pick someone at the back of the room, and think that you are speaking to that person during the reading.  It’s normal for a reader to speak to the people in the front rows, and the voice then comes out too quiet.  Everyone needs to hear, so aim for the people in the back. 
     In a different context, the actor Michael Caine said that when he was doing live stage plays, the director told him there was someone sitting in the back of the auditorium who had paid to see the play, and he deserved to hear the dialog just as much as someone sitting in the front row. 

Photo: Harry Wad
3) Americans tend to speak from the middle of the mouth.  If you speak from the back of the mouth, you can sound vaguely Russian:  Open your throat as if yawning, then keep speaking from back there without putting on a Russian accent, and you’ll find the result surprising.  (Although when I try it, I sound vaguely drunk, which may not contradict what she said.)  If you speak from the front of your mouth, you will sound vaguely European (I suppose she meant Western European), without trying to put on a British accent.  

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Middle School Play

Sara Loudon, a friend of mine, teaches English, Literature, and History at Covenant Christian Middle School.  About every quarter, the students put on a play.  This quarter was for Medieval history.  (See her below in period dress.) 

The production was impressive, as usual.  All the students stood and recited massive amounts of material from memory.  All of them had parts to play among the abridged versions of the works performed:  A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It, Macbeth, and Hamlet.  The scenes from Macbeth in particular were performed with imagination and passion.  This is an excellent school:  Everyone participates, everyone learns to stand and deliver.  

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

When Athena met Persephone

Athena meets a number of unusual people in her adventures.  Here is my account of her meeting Persephone, queen of the underworld. 





            Pale fingers, emerging from the earth, gripping the edge of the crack. 
            More fingers, from the other hand.  The top of a woman’s head appeared between, the hair a dirty gray.  Now her entire head emerged from the crack, eyes closed, moaning in effort as she climbed.  The grime-covered hair and face were worse than the paleness of palace maidens who avoid the sun.  This was the paleness of death. 
            An elbow pointed in the air as she brought her arm up, fingernails clawing at the ground.  More moans issued from those pale lips -- moans that made Athena turn to water inside.  Both hands pushed, and the woman’s upper body now showed.  It was covered in what must have once been a rich garment, now rent in several places and stained with dirt.  It was rotting away, even as Athena’s eyes watched. 
            More clawing.  A pale leg rose as the woman sought to bring her foot up to the edge.  The moans came louder, and with them, the odor.  It was as if darkness had emerged from the chasm in the ground to blot out the light, it was so devoid of life.   
            Hands no longer clawing, the woman stood at the edge of the crack.  The sun shone on her but revealed no color besides the pale grayness.  The rich garment continued to rot and fray, showing the skin beneath had clods of dirt sticking to it.  The eyes remained shut. 
            Demeter took in a deep breath.  Then she called out, mournful.  “Greetings, daughter.  All the crops are withered, all is in despair.  Winter still reigns.” 
            No other sound entered the meadow.  The pale woman stood, still as death.  Then her eyes opened.  To her shock, Athena saw they were a bright blue -- as blue as larkspur petals. 
            The pale woman spoke.  “Greetings, mother.  Let the crops grow and the rejoicing begin.  Spring has come!” 
            She thrust her arms upward.  The last shreds of her garment rotted away, the clods of dirt fell back to earth.  She looked up at the sun, its rays now finding her.  Her skin rapidly assumed a normal pallor.  

Monday, May 2, 2011

King James Version

Today, May 2, 2011, is the 400th anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible.  It's influence on the English language has been immeasurable.  Below is a sample.



Psalm 149

Praise ye the Lord. 

Sing unto the Lord a new song, 
   and his praise in the congregation of saints.
Let Israel rejoice in him that made him: 
   let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.
Let them praise his name in the dance: 
   let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp.
For the Lord taketh pleasure in his people: 
   he will beautify the meek with salvation.
Let the saints be joyful in glory: 
   let them sing aloud upon their beds.
Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, 
   and a two-edged sword in their hand;
To execute vengeance upon the heathen, 
   and punishments upon the people;
To bind their kings with chains, 
   and their nobles with fetters of iron;
To execute upon them the judgment written: 
   this honour have all his saints. 

Praise ye the Lord.

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