Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Pigs, Horses, Cows, And Sheep...and Bartering Farmers






Three farmers met at market and each made an offer:



Farnsworth to Cubbington - "I'll give you 6 of my pigs for 1 of your horses, and then you'll have twice as many animals here as me."


Nebish to Farnsworth - "I like the way you do business. However, I'll give you 14 of my sheep for 1 of your horses, then you, my good man, will have three times as many animals here as I."




Cubbington to Nebish - "I can play this game. I'll give you 4 cows for 1 horse, then you'll have six times as many animals here as myself."


How many animals (don't worry about types of beasts) did Farnsworth, Cubbington, and Nebish bring to market?


Monday, December 22, 2014

Tricksters: Loki and Maui - Chapter 2



Loki - Trickster God of Asgard

Let's just get this out of the way. Loki was an asshole. He comes across as one of the creative forces of the universe but also as an evil force bent on harm. He is the father of some of the most malevolent creatures in all of Norse mythology: the horrible goddess Hel, the monstrous wolf Fenrir, the world serpent Jormundgand. When the most beautiful of the Norse Gods, Baldr, had a vision of his own death, Frigg the Queen of Asgard made every living thing in all the realms promise not to harm him. Somehow, mistletoe was overlooked. Loki, finding this out, and jealous of Baldr, arranged for a sprig of mistletoe to pierce Baldr's heart. When Odin commanded that all creatures in the all the realms weep and mourn Baldr, only Loki refused to do so. This refusal created the inevitable Ragnarok, the end of all things.



Maui - The Polynesian Trickster Demi-god 

Unlike Loki, Maui (for whom the island is named) is for the most part good. His tricks seemed to be all in the arena of helping the people be all that they could be. Maui tricked the goddess of fire into revealing the secrets of her element. He tricked the sun into slowing down (I guess it was just whizzing around way too fast) so folks could have enough light to get things done. He also used his penis to stop a tidal wave that threatened to destroy the islands - which tells you something about the Polynesian culture. Maui is credited with the actual raising of the Hawaiian islands. He even died to save the people from a horrible she-monster, (he was killed by her vagina; cut in half no less) but in doing so brought death (I guess until then folks were immortal) in the world. Bummer.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

I Love the Blues!!!! Ana Popovic Kicks It.




I recently acquired two heart-stopping blues albums: Unconditional and Can You Stand the Heat by Ana Popovic. I now find myself listening to these songs again and again. To say they're good is to admit to a lack of word power skills.

Out of Belgrade Serbia, Popovic can do it all. She writes songs with grit and heart. She sings with an authenticity and power that transforms every song into a revelation. And she plays guitar (both acoustic and electric) like she's channeling any number of Rock and Blues legends; Eric Clapton, Albert King, And now I'm going to go out on a limb - Jimi Hendrix.

She has released 4 albums in total (The first was Still Making History and the second a live album An Evening at Trasimeno Lake ). I went to Popovic's web site and sampled songs from each of these - and yes I loved them - but I was especially interested in her first release, Still Making History. I wanted to see what this extraordinary woman sounded like when she first sprang out of the gate. Would she have the same sound almost a decade ago?

She did not. I sampled a song Hungry and immediately smiled. It reminded me of another debut album released over forty years ago. I'm talking about the first James Gang album that introduced the world to Joe Walsh. Hungry took me back Funk 49 and Walk Away.

A year later when she played at Trasimeno lake she was already evolving the sophisticated chops and powerful vocals she would display on Unconditional and Can You Stand the Heat. By the time these gems were released, Ana had morphed into a force to be reckoned with.

I'm going to leave you with a simple way to see if I'm jiving you about this artist. Find her web site. Sample a few songs from each of her albums. Be prepared to be blown away.

Merry Christmas all. Oh by the way, Ana was nominated for Blues Female Artist of 2014. I just thought you might like to know.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Tricksters - Ananse and Coyote - Chapter 1

Tricksters have been common in world myths throughout history. They often bedevil their more serious brethren and mankind. They also provide lessons on how not to take yourself so seriously. And in rare cases, are essential in creation and the survival of human kind. Below are just two of my favorites.




Ananze - The Spider Storyteller, Ananse is responsible for many of the stories that have been handed down from West African and eventually West Indian traditions. A few of these have been re-translated by american slave cultures into familiar tales, most notably the tales of Uncle Remus's Brer Rabbit. But first and foremost Ananse is a spider, and a cunning one. And like most tricksters he was eternally horny. He even seduced the Sky God's daughter. 

A few of Anase's tricks:

The Sky God's Challenge - When the Sky God (probably still pissed because Ananse seduced his daughter) insisted Ananse bring back something from Earth but wouldn't tell him what. Ananse tricked him into revealing it was the darkness, the moon,and the sun. Ananse brought darkness out of a gunny sack and no one could see anything. Then he brought out the moon and they could see a little. When he brought out the sun many of the animals were blinded by its glare. Thus Ananse invented blindness.

The Sticky Doll - Ananse tricked the High God Nyame (who never let any stories be told. He was a bit of a dick.) into letting Ananse be the the keeper and teller of all stories by capturing a fairy and bringing it to the High God. He painted a doll with sticky sap and set it in a meadow where fairies liked to dance.The doll had sitting in its lap some yam mash. A fairy came along and asked if he could have some of the mash. Ananse made the doll's head nod. When the fairy tasted the mash, he thanked the doll, who said nothing. The fairy was insulted and slapped the doll - his hand stuck. Thus Ananse brought the captured fairy to Nyame, who put Ananse in charge of stories. And thus stories were shared with the world. And yes this is the basis for the Brer Rabbit story, 'The Tar Baby'. 



 
Coyote - Inventor of Death. Because coyotes can be found throughout most of North America the Coyote Trickster is a staple of many of the plains and mountain tribes. Bored with the perfection of creation (people never got sick, never grew old, food was plentiful), Coyote tried his own hand at creating beings, who turned out only absurd and funny looking. This cracked up Coyote who laughed so loud he attracted the Attention of the Earth-Initiate, who had created the heavens and the Earth. When told that laughing at his poor wretches was rude, he denied doing it and thus invented lying. Then he approached the happy people of the world and convinced them that sickness, death, and competition were the best things ever (tricksters always have the gift of gab). Unfortunately, the first being to die was Coyote's own son. Thus weeping was invented.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

I'm Afraid so, Captain - Wonderful, Marvelous Phobias - Chapter 3

More phobias, you say? But of course. Let's see what we can dig up.


Let's begin with a pair that Vampires might ascribe to:

Esophobia - Fear of Daylight.

Staurophobia - Fear of Crosses






And now a couple that I'm not really sure what they are. I'd love an explanation, dear reader, so if you know leave me a comment.





Walloonophobia - You guessed it, Fear of Walloons

Here's one that both delights me and puzzles me. Zemmiphobia - Fear of the Great Mole Rat. Really? This sounds like something a tribe in New Guinea might worship. "Oh Great Mole Rat, hear my prayer."

As a mathematician, I object to this next one most strenuously. Octophobia - Fear of the Number 8. Several questions come to mind, beginning with WHY? 

Compared to Octophobia, the next few make some semblance of sense.








Pteronophobia - Fear of Being Tickled by a Feather. I know what you're thinking. "That wouldn't be so bad." But when I think about it I'm always tied naked to a chair. Oh, did I reveal too much?

 Myxophobia - Fear of Slime. I mean come on, slime for pete's sake. The stuff is gooey, and drips from your face and is so hard to get off your pajamas.

Enosiophobia - Fear of Having Committed Some Unpardonable Sin. I'm not the only one that has this one, am I?

And now a few that just make me go Hmmmmmm.

Levophobia - Fear of the Left Side of Your Body. In an earlier post we discussed Dextrophobia - Fear of the Right Side of Your Body. So if you had that one and Levophobia you really would have nowhere to turn. Oh my God, I really am clever.

Linonophobia - Fear of String. If you're like me, you're sad for kitties who have this one. And maybe kite flyers. How about String Theorists?

Peladophobia - Fear of Bald People. For reasons I don't think I have to mention, I hope I don't get this one. I could never look in a mirror again. 




For this last one, I want you to imagine a world where everyone has  a Fear of Names. We wouldn't name our children. We address one another as "Hey you!". What would they put on our driver's licenses? I could go on and on, but you get the picture (oh yeah, that's what they'd put on our driver's licenses). This one's called Nomatophobia. Okay, one more. There would be no Alex Trebeck.

Goodbye for now. Be well and fear not.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Fraidy Cat! - Phobias - Chapter 2

Here we are again at the intersection of Allshookup Avenue and Wetmypants Lane. And by that I mean another round of phobias. I scream, you scream, we all scream. Things that frighten, give you the jitters, make you nervous, possibly terrify, and most certainly leave you with a queasy feeling in your tum tum. Sooooooo, here we go.

I love this one - Omphalophobia - Fear of Belly Buttons. I want to know just how many people walk into a psychiatrist's office and say, "My navel creeps me out!"




I also wonder if these might be people who also have Proctophobia - Fear of Rectums. I'm thinking folks who have Omphalaphobia and Proctophobia are screwed coming and going. Oooh, I'm so clever.





Speaking of Phobias, that would be bad to have in pairs, consider - Microphobia (Fear of Small Things) and Megalophobia, wait for it, (Fear of Large Things). If someone was afflicted with this pair they'd have to go through life ordering the medium size coffee (That's Grande at Starbucks). And of course, they would be fans of Baby Bear - not too big, not too small, but just right.

As bad as the last pair was, they're nothing compared to this next divergent grouping. Imagine having Medorthophobia (Fear of having an Erect Penis) coupled with Medomalacuphobia (Fear of Losing an Erect Penis). The only joke I can think of starts with the words, "On the one hand.....






Well, enough of these weird phobias. Let's get back to something sensible - Lutraphobia - Fear of Otters. 

And another sensible one - Pogonophobia - Fear of Beards




I will leave you with a phobia whose name makes so much sense that I'm surprised that it's not an everyday word. I'm talking about Fear of Long Words. Drum roll please: Hippopitomonstrosequipedaliophobia.

And with that I say good night to all and to all a good night. Ho Ho Ho.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

What are You Afraid Of? - Phobias Chapter 1

I don't know about you but I have always been fascinated by Phobias. I have a few of my own, which I won't admit to at this time. However, this list is purely for fun. I have found some of what I consider peculiar fears. So without further ado. some phobias for you.


Here's one that seems to be on the rise. Coulrophobia - Fear of Clowns. Now you have a name for it.

I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that most vampires have this fear - Alliumophobia - Fear of Garlic.



Here's an interesting one and I think I might have this just a little bit - Automatonophobia - Fear of ventriloquist dummies.

I love this one - Alektorophobia - Fear of Chickens.



Here is a trio that seem to be math related.



     
Apeirophobia - Fear of Infinity
     
Asymmetriphobia - Fear of Asymmetric Things: I think      Sheldon on Big Bang Theory has this.

Baraphobia - Fear of Gravity


Here's another one that made me smile - Consecotaleophobia - Fear of Chopsticks

Here's one that made me scratch my head - Dextrophobia - Fear of the Right Side of Your Body. How the heck do you get away from this one?



How about the Fear of Newts? - Batrachophobia

Here's one I can kind of understand - Arachibutyrophobia - Fear of Peanut Butter Getting Stuck to the Roof of your Mouth!!

And that's all for now. Stay tuned - or better yet, follow this blog - for more of what scares you. Merry Christmas. Unless you're afraid of that.



Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Cool Fictional Horses - Chapter 2: Cartoon Horses

Cartoon Steeds
Bullseye - Toy Horse companion of Woody the Cowboy in Pixar's Toy Story

Pokey - Stretchy horse belonging to equally stretchy cartoon character Gumby.



Horse - Equine friend of the pride of the Canadian Mounted Police, Dudley Do Right


Quickdraw McGraw - With his faithful donkey companion Baba Looey, Quickdraw rounded up lawbreakers in the old west. Quickdraw also had a secret identity, the guitar wielding vigilante El Kabong, who would whack wrongdoers with a Flamenco guitar. Like Baba Looey was fond of saying, "Quickdraw has a lot upstairs, no brains, just an empty lot."


Maximus - The war horse that makes an uneasy alliance with Rapunzel and her thieving companion Flynn. Incredibly self-righteous, Maximus seems bent on bringing the thief to justice.



Spirit, Stallion of the Cimmaron - Free and hell-bent on staying that way, Spirit hangs tough in the face of a relentless cavalry officer who wants to break..well, his spirit. In the end, the horse not only frees himself but a captured Indian boy.


Comet - Supergirl's super horse. Once a centaur, Biron of Greece was a friend of the sorceress Circe. Having saved her life, Circe wanted to reward him by turning him human but the spell was fouled and he became totally a horse. Circe tried to undo at least part of the damage by giving him super-powers and making him immortal. Biron does turn human when a certain comet passes near Earth. Then he becomes 'Bronco' Billy' a rodeo rider.



Captain - In 101 Dalmatians, Captain is part of a quasi-military group of animals who aid in the search for the kidnapped puppies. In the end, they foil the evil plans of Cruella DeVille and her henchmen.


Boxer - In Animal Farm, Boxer, a loyal and powerful Morgan, supports Napolean, the pig in all his endeavors to change the farm from being run by humans to being sustained by animals. In the end, however, Napolean betrays him and sells him to the glue factory.


Nightmare - Belonging to Casper the Friendly Ghost, Nightmare is naturally a ghost horse. Casper, who really doesn't need a horse since he can fly, is often seen riding nightmare when in the company of Wendy the Good Little Witch - when she is riding her broom.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Creation Stories Chapter 4 - Chinese and Hindu: Once Again the Cosmic Egg but with the Sacrificial Parent Thrown in.





Hindu - In the beginning there was a marvelous gold cosmic egg created by Dyaus, The Sky Father and Prithvi, The Earth Mother. From this egg comes Purusha, their son, who is immediately sacrificed and dismembered so his body can be the stuff of creation - his blood the rivers and lakes, his hair the plants, his bones the mountains. Once a place is established, man and woman are created but the woman, who considers herself the man's sister is fearful of incest, so she runs away and becomes a series of animals. Unfortunately for her, in each incarnation she is captured and mated with by the man. Thus all the species of animals are born. Finally, she relents and the human race is brought into being.

China - The Pangu Myth - In the beginning there was chaos and into this chaos emerged a great cosmic egg with the super-god Pangu inside. Pangu was cramped in the egg and eventually smashed his way out. His first act was to create the heavens and the Earth out of the stuff of chaos. Potent as he was, Pangu was not immortal and when he died, his body was transformed into the rest of the universe: His eyes became the sun and the moon, His blood rivers, His voice thunder, His hair all the plants. Before even the cosmic egg there existed the great Goddess Nuwa. When she saw all that Pangu had created, she decided to make humans. Now even back then there was a pecking order. Nobles were created from pure clay but to make the ordinary people she dragged a rope through mud then shook it. Each drop of mud became an ordinary person.


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Scary as Hell Comic Book Villains - Chapter 1

Okay, here's the deal. Pretty much all the villains in graphic novel land are fierce. For the past decade the bar has been raised with regard to what a bad guy will do. Out and out murder - Carnage. The deaths of millions - The Watchmen. Infecting poor victims with diseases. Stealing their souls. The villains below, though, have caught my attention for particular nastiness. But if you're like me, you like to be shocked, and sometimes scared out of your socks.

Marvel 

Look at these guys. They are uuuuugly!!

Carnage and Venom- These Spiderman villains are basically brothers. Here's the skinny. It all begins with a black Spiderman suit that's well...alive. For a time Spidey himself wore this living costume and he got stronger but also all weird. To make a long story short, Spidey discarded the bad suit and it crawled onto Eddie Brock who became Venom. While Venom was bad enough, like a suped-up, long-tongued, razor-toothed Spiderman on steroids who occasionally ate his victims, Carnage was a whole lot worse. Already a psychopath, Cletus Kasady, had no interest in world domination or even robbing banks. He only wanted to kill and his new red duds - a portion of Venom's living costume - allowed him to do just. They projected blades and strangling ropes the way Spiderman's projected webs. In the end, although it was out of character for him, Spiderman was forced to go along with the killing of Carnage. Unfortunately, Venom is still hanging around and still bat-shit loony.



Don't mind me. I'm just here to eat your world.

Galactus  - This dude's aliases tell it all: Devourer of Worlds, Destroyer of Civilizations, or just plain Planet Eater. Once a regular guy in the universe that preceded ours, Galen is the last remnant of that universe. You could say he was altered in the final cosmic blast. After sleeping for God knows for how long he awoke a cosmic vampire who not only must consume worlds to live but these worlds have to have a good sized population to be tasty. Together with his herald, The Silver Surfer, he travels the cosmos in a space ship the size of a solar system. The routine is as follows. Silver Surfer - yes he's silver and yes he zooms into the stratosphere on a surf board - warns everybody that their days are numbered and there's not a whole lot they can do about it. Then after a time, where the inhabitants weep and rend their clothing, Galactus blasts the planet with some energy doohickey and gobbles up the pieces. Of course, he would eventually set his sights on Earth. That goes without saying.

Let me get this out of the way. Growing up I was a whole lot more afraid of monsters who were, shall we say, intimate. Monsters, like the Wolfman or a vampire, who would single you out for their monstering. Giant things, like building-sized spiders, might step right over you and not notice you at all. At least that was my reasoning. 


Our next weirdo, Eclipso is of the former kind. He just looks like someone you would come upon and he would do you personal hurt and for no better reason than that was his nature. Here's what he looks like:



Kind of a hyper-Joker (just as nuts but with a buttload of extra abilities) with a weird mission in life. Let me lay this bad guy out for you. First of all he possesses people, takes over their bodies. I hate that. No thank you. Please leave my mind and body alone. Next he hates light, so he wants to destroy the sun (thus the name Eclipso) or at least blot out its light. Personally, I think this is a bad idea. I like the sun and I think we'd all be worse off without it. I'm leaving out all his super powers - and he has a bunch of 'em - for a last look at another of his penchants. Long ago a crystal called The Heart of Darkness exploded and its pieces flew all over the world - were talking hundreds of pretty dark diamond-looking shards. So imagine yourself walking along a mountain road and you come across one of these pretty rocks and you pick it up. You are now marked for death. And who is your executioner - wait for it - Eclipso. Just for picking up a rock. That hardly seems fair.

Next up Abomination (is that a name or what?), Thanos, and...well you'll just have to see.

Shakespearean Insults - Chapter 4




This, dear friends, shall be the last compendium of Willie's barbs. I hope you've enjoyed them as much as I have. 

His brain which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage.

You tread upon my patience.

You egg, you fry of treachery.

Thou foul lump of deformity.

Out of my sight, thou dost infect my eyes.

Thou poisonous bunch-backed toad.

Beg that thou may leave to hang thyself.

Vile worm, you were overlooked even in thy birth.

Drunkenness is his best virtue.

How foul and loathsome is thy image.

Were I like thee, I would throw away myself.

He has no so much brains as ear wax

I'll beat thee, but I should infect my hands.

And for our final insult something with a little more class

You ruinous butt!!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Cool Shakespearean Insults - Chapter 3



Tis true. I could not stay away from the Bard of Avon's caustic wit. Verily, I have been entertained and so shall thee. Be thee prepared to howl.

Your bum is the greatest thing about you.

You have such a February face.

Pray you, stand further from me.

You lisp and wear strange suits.

What a disgrace it is to me that I should remember your name.

She hath more hair than wit.

You are strangely troublesome.

I can hardly forebear hurling things at him.

Put your face between his sheets and do the office of a warming pan.

I was seeking for a fool when I found you.

And now one that translates through the ages.

Thou misshapen dick.






Thursday, December 4, 2014

Creation Stories Chapter 3: Aztec and Egyptian - The Sun's Struggle vs The Sun's Tears




Egyptian Creation Story - First of all let me present what I think is the coolest part of the Egyptian Creation saga. We are, all of us, the tears of the sun, literally the product of Atum-Ra's saddness. Now to the rest of the story. Atum-Ra, the Sun God was also the first god and all other gods sprung from his body. Shu (the god of air) and Tefnut (the god of moisture in all its forms) were born out of masturbation. These were the first male (Shu) and female (Tefnut). This brother and sister gave birth to Geb and Nut (the Earth and Sky). Once these gods were in place, Tefnut became the Maat, the order bringer and arranged the Earth and its center Egypt. Thus all things were divinely placed: The sacred Nile, the Rites of Worship, The Floods, The roles for priests, the Pharaohs, the people. 

Aztecs also worshiped the sun. In fact, if anything, they revered it more - to the tune of human sacrifice.

Aztec Creation Story - In the beginning, there was only the goddess Omencihuatl and her first act of creation was to manufacture a knife. I suppose that makes sense for a people who would need knives a lot. This knife fell to Earth (which I assume she also created) and from it sprang the kingdom of Mexica and the gods. As for the creation of everything else, this tale is called "The Myth of the Five Suns." Like the story of the Navajo, there were worlds within worlds, five of them, each protected by a Sun God. The First World, in the North, was ruled by Tezcatlipoca, God of Darkness. It was eaten by Tigers. The Second world, in the West was governed by Quetzalcoatl, God of Magic. It was wiped out by Winds. And oh yeah, it human inhabitants became monkeys.The Third World, in the South, was ruled Tlaloc, God of Fire. It was rubbed out by a Rain of Fire and its humans became birds. The Fourth World, in the East was ruled over by the Goddess Chalchihuitlicue (Goddess of water). Appropriately this one was wiped out by a flood. I'm going to assume these guys became fish. The Fifth World, the one we all live in and which Mexica was its center, was and still is, ruled over by another Fire God, Xuihtecuhtli. When it is finally destroyed it will be wiped out by the Mother of all Earthquakes. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Creation Stories - Chapter 2: Native North American and African: Rising Up vs The World Egg




This is the second installment - see the earlier Scandinavian and Sumerian - in a multiple part series on creation stories. Since there were many North American creation stories, I have chosen the Navajo story. Similarly, there were a large number of African stories and I selected one, the Dogon Creation Story. 


Navajo - Even to this day there are a number of domed worlds - five altogether- built one atop the other. First world, deep underground was centered on a huge ocean and was populated by the Insect People, led by Locust. Because of the wrath of their gods they were forced upwards to the World of the Swallows. Again they screwed up and had to rise up to the Grasshopper World where they blew it again and had to rise up to the Kisani, the Pueblo People.  The two races got along famously and together created First Man and First Woman. These did their job and made many children. Two divine creatures, one called Water Monster and the other The Trickster Coyote for some reason known only to the gods started kidnapping young girls. The people - both The Insect People and the Kisani and the humans they created - were forced to go into hiding. A brave insect, Locust, (kind of a bug Moses) led everyone out of this intolerable situation up into the Fifth World, the world they inhabit to this day.

Dogon Creation Story (Africa) - First there was the World Egg which had been fertilized by the creator, Amma. The egg cracked into two halves each containing a set of divine identical twins, male and female. These four are called The Nummo. Amma flung some divine clay from the heavens and created the Earth. These four took it into their heads to fall to the Earth and copulate with it and each other- thus humans came to be. Once the human race established itself, the original Nummo twins became something that would feed all the world, the grasses of the plains. And from there they eternally watch over their creation.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Creation Myths - Chapter 1

I found myself immersed in one creation story after another (I think Myth sounds a bit condescending) for the past few days so I thought I would share a few - maybe just two this time. There are a bunch from Native American to Buddhist to Scandinavian to Hebrew. All of them are fascinating.

Sumeria -
I'm inclined to start here for no other reason that I think these guys influenced a number of other creation stories and many of the religions that began in the fertile crescent - they had the original flood story.  Okay here's the skinny on how the world got going. An (Heaven) and Ki (Earth) - the original gods and the parents of the other gods - united to form Anki (the universe). The other gods came along later and began right off intermarrying. The children of these gods thought the necessary task of farming was too difficult so they created humans. This was done by the Nammu (goddess of the water) who put her son to the task of making people. Once the humans started in on farming the gods organized the Tigris and Euphrates so the job could be easier. Strangely, it was the trickster god Enki, a notoriously lazy fellow, who got most of this going. Rumor has it that he used his penis to fill the rivers and streams. He also wanted to use that same penis to impregnate the maiden goddess Uttu but she would not agree until he invented vegetation - fruits and vegetables. He must have wanted her pretty bad because he presented her with three of his inventions: apples, cucumbers, and grapes. She gave in and their offspring invented all the other fruits of the fields.

Let's go to another part of the world to see how they started everything. Whereas Sumerians used sex to begin the world - they revered the sexual act as divine, Scandinavians used a combination of sex and murder (strangely enough the Greeks started creation with a patricide).



Norse - When the void, or at least near-void existed there were three regions: Mudspell in the south - all molten rock and inhabited by a demon named Black Surt who wielded a flaming sword always ready to destroy anything even remotely looking like creation. Niflheim in the north, all ice and frost. And finally between them both Ginungagap, a wet place of rivers but still kind of sterile. In this middle region was born a frost giant named Ymir, who had a propensity for other beings to spring out of his orifices. An man and a woman sprang out of his armpits. A family of frost giants emerged from between his legs. From his middle came the first cow, Audumla. 
    Audumla licked at the borders of ice around the rivers and Buri, one of the original gods came forth. He married one of the frost giants and they had a son, Bor. Bor married Bestla, another frost giant - I guess the gene pool was kind of restricted. But here's where things get interesting. Bestla had three children Odin, Vili, and Ve. These guys must have been born belligerent because the first thing they did was kill the original Frost Giant Ymir and from his flesh and bones they created the world. His blood made the oceans and lakes. The sky came from his skull. They made the walls of Mitgard (that's the Earth for you people who didn't see the movie Thor) from his eyebrows - imagine that! They then created Embla, the first woman (I know. I thought a woman sprang from Ymir's armpit) and Ask, the first man. I guess it was a big deal to have dwarfs because they were created out of the maggots feasting on Ymir's flesh. Mitgard was given to these two as their home and they went straight about making all the people who came after. Asgard the home of the gods was the last thing to be created. Of course, in the middle of all this creating there were heavenly wars, ...and more wars...and more wars. Vikings loved to fight.

Coming attractions - Native American and Chinese Creation Stories. Stay tuned.



Sunday, November 30, 2014

Cool Shakespearean Insults - Chapter 2

I don't know about you but I'm ready for some more put downs from the Bard. I am continually amazed at his use of common words in uncommon ways to create fabulous burns. So gentle people let the games begin.




I do desire we may be better strangers.

Thou frothy flap-mouthed minnow.

You scullion! You rampallian! You Fustilarian! I'll tickle your catastrophe.

Thou puking dismal-dreaming horn.

Villain, I have done thy mother.

Thou spleeny flap-mouthed harpy.

They lie deadly when they tell you, you have good faces.

Thou rank beef-witted measle.

Thou art the son and heir of a mongrel bitch.

Thou churlish fen-sucked strumpet.

Away, moldy rogue, away!

I think thou wast created for men to breathe themselves upon you.

More of your conversation would infect my brain.

 I wonder that you still be talking. Nobody marks you.

Well, that's all for now. I challenge you to use one of these pithy phrases on an acquaintance who doest thou find irksome.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Comic Book (Graphic Novels) Villains : The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

The new 'Avengers' movie will feature the Hyper-Villain Ultron. I recently started up a conversation about this massively powerful super creep. In the entire group I was in, no one even knew who this bad guy was.

Also, with the upcoming crossover between 'Arrow' and 'The Flash' which features Captain Boomerang, I wondered who might appreciate a heads up about this guy - although with all the mega-humans coming out of the woodwork on 'Flash', I'm thinking it might not be the same guy. In any event, I'm going to give you the low down on several of the coolest, weirdest, baddest super (and not so super) villains in both the Marvel and DC universe.

Let's begin with Ultron - First of all, Ultron is a robot, albeit one with a mind of its own (no three laws for him). Henry Pym (The Ant Man, a superhero destined to have a movie of his own in the near future) created Ultron and implanted his own brain patterns into his creation. Ultron rebelled and decided that the human race needed to be exterminated. Go Figure. Like Wolverine, Ulton - or at least a subsequent upgrade of the robot - is made of indestructible Adamantium. He is also incredibly strong (we're talking Hulk strong), almost invulnerable, can fly, and can put large numbers of folks in a trace with just a glance. And one more thing, if he is defeated, like the robot in the 'The Incredibles', he recreates himself with new enhancements. At last count, there was an Ultron 15.

Captain Boomerang - Alias George 'Digger' Harkness, the good Captain is an enemy of The Flash. First of all, he uses boomerangs like Batman uses the weapons in his utility belt or Arrow uses his specialized arrows. On top of that, he had, in a limited sense, the ability to match Flash's bursts of speed. He has tangled with the Flash on more than one occasion and of course lost.

Dormammu - Rumor has it that Marvel is planning to release a Doctor Strange movie. As a fan of the super-mystic Strange, I am looking forward to this one. Anyway, one of the most powerful adversaries - and I believe the very enemy that Strange will face in the movie - Dormammu is a bad ass. Demonlike, he appears surrounded in a corona of fire. Like Strange he is a master of the Mystic Arts. He has conquered and subjugated a butt-load of alternate dimensions but the one he has set his sights on is ours. He can travel effortlessly between these dimensions, alter his size and strength, travel in time, and is a master of telepathy. Oh yeah, he can transform others into copies of himself and equip them with his powers.

Gorilla Grodd - Recently on the TV show 'The Flash' the mysterious wheel-chaired mastermind Harrison Wells (Just who the heck is this guy anyway?) went into his secret sanctum and addressed a creature in a cage marked Gorilla Grodd. I said--out loud at the time--wait a minute, one of Flash's big time adversaries is Gorilla Grodd. This bad simian is a member of a race of super-apes who have kept their existence a secret from humanity. Grodd can control the minds of others, transfer his consciousness into others, transform matter with his will, and if all of this wasn't bad enough, he is a genius on the order of Lex Luther. What the heck is he doing in a cage in a back wing of Harrison Well's abode?

The Absorbing Man - If you're a fan of Marvel's Agents of Shield you've seen this nightmare on two different episodes. Carl 'Crusher' Creel is featured on the show as a thrall of Hydra (Hail Hydra!!!) but the original Creel was a creation of Asgard (who are also featured from time to time on Marvel's Agents of Shield). Loki, Thor's evil half-brother endowed Creel with the power to absorb and become anything he touches. This includes energy or even sometimes the powers of his adversaries, one of which was Thor the Thunder God. He had fought the Hulk to a standstill by absorbing his strength. He carries a ball and chain which he uses the way Thor uses his hammer.

The Penguin - One of my favorite shows this season is 'Gotham' and my favorite character on this excellent show is Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot. On the TV show he is a manipulative genius, a ruthless adversary, and someone who seems destined to rise up through the ranks of Gotham's underworld. In graphic novels (and one so-so movie) he is a foe of Batman. Like Moriarity of Sherlock Holmes fame, The Penguin prefers to remain behind the scenes doing nefarious deeds in secret - pulling the strings as it were. Occasionally he confronts Batman and Robin directly, usually in some plot involving birds. He has also teamed up with a few other of Batman's enemies and has come close to putting the Caped Crusader on ice.

The Riddler - Another character on 'Gotham' is a criminologist named Edward Nigma. Currently, he is just an annoying fidget who seems obsessed with puzzles and riddles. This scenario is slightly different from the one presented in the comics of my youth but the outcome appears to heading the same way. E. Nigma (get it?!) will eventually decide to go to the dark side and will become the criminal The Riddler. In this persona, he will, like The Penguin, become a foe of Batman and Robin. A genius with puzzles, Nigma can't resist leaving riddling clues which eventually lead to his downfall.




Friday, November 28, 2014

The Theory of Everything

I can't deny it. I love movies. For less than ten dollars (sometime a whole lot less) I get to enjoy a film that might cost a half billion dollars to make.

That said, it's a real treat when a movie not only touches my heart, but uplifts it as well. 

The Theory of Everything is a significant section of the life of Stephen Hawking - from 1963 when he was a Science student at Cambridge trying to decide on a direction for his thesis to close to the present. It is not science heavy but more revolves around the relationship between him and his wife Jane Wilde. And of course there is his neurological disorder. 

 The acting is superb. The writing is funny, poignant, sweet, and articulate. I do believe Eddie Redmayne (think Les Miserables) as Hawking never lets us forget there is a living breathing man inside the deteriorating shell of the scientist. There's a scene where he plays with his children, careening around his living room on his electric wheelchair--lovely. Felicity Jones as his courageous wife Jane is powerful at the same time as being breathtaking in her depth. The supporting cast is terrific as well, from David Thewlis as Dennis Sciama, Stephen's mentor who became his lifelong friend to Charlie Cox a music teacher who became so much more.

I could go on and on but I hope I've convinced you to give this one a try. You won't be disappointed.

Incredibly Cool Fictional Horses - Chapter 1

Once I got hooked on famous steeds and their equally famous riders, I found myself staring at an even more fascinating group of equines - Famous Fictional Horses. Here are a few. I hope you find them as entertaining as I did.

Shadowfax - Lord of the Rings fans will know this magical horse who aligned himself with Gandalf. This steed belonging to the city of Gondor, would be Gandalf's (both as Gandalf the Grey and Gandalf the White) companion through all of his battles to save Middle Earth.

Fatty Lumpkin - While were talking about LOTR we can't forget Tom Bombadil (although Peter Jackson did in his three movie series). Bombadil rode Fatty as he accompanied the Hobbits on a leg of their quest to keep the infamous Ring of Power out of the hands of the Black Riders.

Arion - Some horses in mythology are not altogether normal. Arion the steed of Hercules, had the feet of a human on his right side.

Sleipnir - Another horse that was different from your run of the mill equine, Sleipnir belonged to Father god Odin. And oh yeah, he had eight legs--which strikes me as bit arachnid.

Tornado - It didn't matter if he was being chased by one horse or an army, Tornado, the jet black steed of swordsman Zorro, could not be caught.

Widowmaker - Some horses won't put up with just anybody riding them. This lightning bolt of a pony belonging to the rootenest, tootenest cowboy in the whole west, Pecos Bill, did not take a shine to Bill's girlfriend Slufoot Sue. When she plopped herself down on his back he bucked her clear to the moon. That is why coyotes, to this day, bay at the moon every night.

And let's end with a biblical equine, although this one is a donkey.

Balaam's Ass - It came as quite a surprise to Balaam when what he thought was an ordinary donkey started talking. Balaam who was in the process of disobeying the God of the Old Testament, couldn't see that God intended to slay both rider and donkey but the ass could. After simply balking and refusing to ride into certain destruction, the donkey turned to Balaam and called him a fool.