wtf

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Missing Letter Monday No “M”: The Return

Published May 14, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

“The Return”

I have returned!

I, the gru– er — the terrifying specter who forcibly denies the use of a letter — have returned!

You’re frightened now, right?

No?

Ah….would additional bold-face type help?

No?

Well, what about Italics?  This is scary, right?!

You’re still not afraid?  Really?

Then take this, oh unperterbable one!  Bold Italics!  This has to have you quivering in fear!

Yes, I know it’s not spelled that way.  But I can’t use that letter today…

Gaaaaaahhhhh!  Shake in terror at the sight of my UNDERLINED bold Italics!  Know ye the unutterable power I hold!!

Strikethrough?

You’re no fun.

None at all.

I’ll just go, if you’re going to be like that.

*sulk*

 


*sigh*  I really wish I could draw.  I can just see this post as a cartoon strip.  The guy speaking would be all spiky shoulderpads and stuff, all the tough posturing in the world, and he’d deflate like a balloon as soon as he realized he wasn’t the least bit scary.

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A to Z: Python

Published April 18, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

Okay, I know I said I wasn’t going to do any Greek stuff, but…I wasn’t really feeling most of the other “P” choices.  Besides, I have a…well, I’m not sure a “funny story” is quite the right way to put it…a “minor anecdote that I happen to find amusing because I’m anal like that” is probably the more accurate way to describe it.  (Really, I ought to do Pele for this.  But…I just wasn’t feeling it.)

Image copyright Atlus, but provided by the MegaTen Wiki. Click for link.

Yup, that dino skull with a snake-like cloud of smoke behind it is how they usually depict Python in these games.  Though I’ll have another image for you in a minute.  But first, here’s the game text describing Python in Shin Megami Tensei IV/IV Apocalypse:

A gigantic, black snake god born from the Greek goddess Gaea with no father.

He has unparalleled prophetic abilities and has protected oracular shrines since days of old.  Python is said to have been the guardian of Delphi, site of Delphic oracles.  He is sometimes called “the king of deceitful spirits” and gave prophecies that would only be in his favor, but he never gave prophecies that went against Gaea’s will.

The same text was also used in the two Devil Survivor games, except without the word “deceitful.”  Which is a pretty freakin’ big change, I must say!  Those of you with some knowledge of who Python is in Greek myths may be agog at the massive omissions there.  But before I address those, let me show you the other version of Python I promised.  This is what you see in Persona 2:  Eternal Punishment when you face Python as an enemy.  (This, of course, being the way I first saw him in a MegaTen game.)

A bit more like it, except for the, y’know, wings and legs.  (Though as I posted once already, it’s hard for us to know what exactly the ancient Greeks had in mind when they used words that get translated to English words like “serpent” and “dragon,” so maybe this isn’t as far off as it might be.)  Python’s inclusion in Eternal Punishment has stuck with me all these years for a very specific reason:  Eternal Punishment was the first game (translated into English) to include a compendium giving the player access to little summaries of what the original myths/folktales/etc. were.  I can’t quote you specifically what it said, because goodness only knows where the heck my memory card is, but I can paraphrase it for you.  It said that Python was a monstrous snake sent by Hera to kill Ret.

It took me way too long to realize that “Ret” was a translation error made by people who didn’t know Greek mythology, and that it was supposed to say “Leto.”

But let’s set the games aside now and talk about the real Python.  (Not the one with the Flying Circus…) Read the rest of this entry →

Missing Letter Monday No X – Slightly Disturbing

Published December 11, 2017 by Iphis of Scyros

Or maybe more than slightly.  I’m not sure yet.

So, I get home today, get my mail, and start looking through it.

I find a postcard with a passcode on it, addressed to someone I’ve never heard of.  I think, “Oh, they sent me someone else’s mail again.”  (Right before the cold weather hit, I had to walk half a block to deliver someone’s package that got put on my porch by mistake!)

Then I check the address and see that it’s at the right address, just addressed to someone who doesn’t live here.

And the passcode, on looking at it more closely, claims to be a requested one, to grant access to the website of the neighborhood association of my subdivision.

W.

T.

F.

Seriously, what’s going on here?  The name it’s addressed to is a really, really weird one.  Like, I can’t even tell what linguistic tradition it hails from.

I want to say “yeah, it’s just some scam,” but it doesn’t make any sense if it is.  The login the passcode is supposed to grant requires a pre-inputted e-mail address and password, so it’s not like it’s a snail mail phishing scam.  And yet, what else could it be?

(Though the weirdest part, to me, is the fact that next to the passcode is written that it stops working after three days.  Um, yeah, the USPS is not that reliable that you could count on it arriving before it’s useless.  Especially not in December.)

I’m thinking my best bet here is to write “Return to Sender; Wrong Address” on it and drop it in the slot at the post office.

Anyone else have better ideas?

I may be a Doppelganger.

Published June 21, 2017 by Iphis of Scyros

I’m serious about this.

You know the legend of the Doppelgänger, right?  A mysterious double of you, and when you meet it, you die.  But what happens to the Doppelgänger after the original human dies?

I’m concerned about this, because I think I’m the duplicate, not the original.

Let me back up a minute, here.   For years, I’ve said I have a Doppelgänger around here somewhere, because I’ve often been mistaken for someone else, particularly in stores.  One time I went into a hardware store with my brother, and a salesman came up asking how the fridge he sold me had worked out.  I told him I’d never bought a fridge from him, and he insisted that I had, a mini-fridge for the teacher’s lounge at a local high school.  I assured him he was mistaken, but my brother and I were both freaked out by it, because it was the high school my brother had attended.

Now, that was years ago.

And since I started wearing braids in my hair, the incidences of people mistaking her for me began to taper off.

Then I went swimming on Monday at the Y.  It was an unusual time for me to be there, and I was stupidly trying to swim laps in the open swim lane (forgot there was one of those at the time) and this guy who was just hanging out in the open lane suddenly started talking to me as if to an acquaintance, and while I was standing there being confused, he said “You don’t remember me, do you?”

Well, I honestly answered that without my glasses on, I couldn’t see a thing.  I literally wouldn’t have recognized him even if I did know him.  (Seriously, all I saw was a human-shaped blob.)  And since he hadn’t made it clear where he thought he knew me from, there was always the possibility I’d taken a class with him, y’know?

But no, he thought I was the person who had taught him how to swim.  I barely even remember how to do the various strokes anymore (I keep meaning to take some refresher lessons), and I certainly never taught them to anyone else.  After explaining that I wasn’t who he thought I was, I did comment that I have a Doppelgänger around here, and how people are always mistaking me for her.

And in laughing about that…he mentioned her name.

And it’s the same as mine.

She and I not only have the same face, but we also have the same first name.

Admittedly, I just looked it up, and my name was pretty popular all through the ’70s.  (In the Top 30 most years.)  So it’s not at all weird that there are other women about my age with my name.  But for them to also have my face?  And considering I’ve sometimes talked to these people at some length without them realizing their mistake, she must also have a voice very similar to mine.

Therefore, one of us must be a Doppelgänger of the other.

And she’s a teacher, someone who touches a lot of lives.  (Though it sounds like she’s no longer at my brother’s alma mater.)  Meanwhile, I’m a near-hermit who avoids other people like the plague.  So if one of us isn’t real, it’s obviously me.

But if I just met someone at the Y who learned to swim from her, then she might be a member at the same Y.  And even if she isn’t, the encounter being so extended surely indicates that she and I are getting close to meeting.

So what’s going to happen to me after I fulfill my purpose as a Doppelgänger and my appearance before her eyes heralds her end?  Am I just going to wink out of existence?

And am I supposed to be okay with that?  The idea that it’s okay I’ll be causing her death, ’cause I’ll cause my own at the same time in a supernaturally imposed death penalty?

Because I am totally not.

I don’t want to disappear, and I sure don’t want to cause anyone else’s death, either.

But if I’m a Doppelgänger, do I even have a choice?

I’m seriously freaked out about this.

Loki at Christmas Time

Published December 24, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros

Among the gods who were no longer regularly worshiped, very little was more annoying than the sight of all the mortals getting excited for a religious festival.  Which one was most frustrating had changed with the years, of course.  Just at the present, Christmas was the most aggravating of all, even though it was — in large part — no longer religious in nature, being celebrated by any number of mortals who had little or no affection for Christianity.

While the period surrounding Christmas was frustrating for them all, it was worst to the Greek gods, because all their Roman counterparts inevitably came by, rubbing their noses in the continued popularity of Saturnalia.  After a few decades of that, Kronos started getting involved in the self-satisfied gloating, making it all the worse.  Most of the Greek gods tried to deal with it in an appropriately Stoic fashion — what Nietzsche would have called an Apollonian fashion, despite that Apollo was actually one of the ones least capable of Stoic reserve — but Hermes had never gone in for any of that self-denial nonsense.  If he didn’t like something, he didn’t deal with it.

So when the Roman gods came by to gloat, he usually went elsewhere.  He could count on his Roman counterpart to get distracted by the first pretty girl he saw — not that Hermes was any different — so he didn’t have to worry about being chased down to be gloated at elsewhere.

Usually, he went to hang out with other gods like himself.  Coyote was a favorite, even though he was still believed in, if not worshiped as such.  Still, in the past few centuries he was often standoffish, what with the European people coming in and oppressing his own people, and in the last few decades, he had started to become downright testy, because the white people were so rapidly destroying the natural world.  It was hard to blame him for his anger, but it certainly made him less pleasant company.  So Hermes had tried spending a few holiday seasons with Anansi, but such terrible things were happening in his part of the world that it wasn’t much fun to be around him, either.

This year, Hermes had hit on a good plan.  He would go to the frozen north and visit Loki.  The lands formerly inhabited by the vicious Vikings were now one of the most pleasant and peaceful regions of the world, and the other Norse gods still hadn’t forgiven Loki, so there wouldn’t be anyone pestering them.  Sure, there wouldn’t be any pretty girls — apart from Loki’s lovely wife, of course — but Hermes could go for a month or so without girls.

Read the rest of this entry →

Roman names

Published December 5, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

It’s procrastination time.  (Or rather, it’s time to do something else instead of falling asleep (again) while trying to edit my paper into something approaching a decent state.)

So I’m going to put up this post I’ve been thinking about for maybe half the semester or more, about Roman names.

In ancient Rome, men (especially if they were patricians or upper-level equites) usually had three names.  Some only had two, and some had more than three, but three was pretty typical.  There was the praenomen, the given name, the name of their gens, their family, and the optional third name was the cognomen.  (Women only had one name, usually.  It would be the female version of the gens name.  That’s why Julius Caesar’s daughters and sister were all named Julia.  As were the daughter and grand-daughter of his adopted son Octavian/Augustus.  Because in ancient Rome, women were…actually if I start on that subject, I’ll be going all night and not get to my point.  I’ll leave the subject for some later post.)

A couple of examples:

Gaius Iulius Caesar:  Gaius is the praenomen, Iulius is the name of the family he belonged to, and Caesar is the cognomen of his particular branch of the family.
Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus:  Gnaeus is the praenomen, Pompeius is the name of the family, and Magnus (great) is the cognomen he was given in honor of his military victories in Africa.
Publius Vergilius Maro:  Publius is the praenomen, Vergilius is the gens name, and Maro is the cognomen, but don’t ask me what it means or if it was personal or a family thing, ’cause I don’t know.  (At some point, still in antiquity, people started mistaking the gens name’s spelling as Virgilius, which is why it’s fairly standard these days to write Virgil instead of Vergil.)

So you get the picture now, right?

One of the key things here is that you almost never write about a Roman citizen and call him by his praenomen.  You don’t talk about Gaius, you talk about Julius Caesar, or just Caesar.  You don’t talk about Gnaeus, you talk about Pompeius Magnus, or (more likely) Pompey the Great.  (Many (but certainly not all) of the names we use to refer to famous Romans are actually Anglicized versions of their gens name:  Antony from Antonius, Horace from Horatius, Ovid from Ovidius, Livy from Livius, et cetera.)

So let me tell you about Pompey’s son.

His name was Sextus Pompeius Magnus, and he gave himself the additional cognomen Pius, to indicate his devotion to duty and his fallen father.  At best, he’s referred to in histories as Sextus Pompeius.  Most of the time, though, he’s just called Sextus.  Not only in modern histories, mind you, but in ancient histories, too:  Appian and Dio both refer to him simply as “Sextus” most of the time.

I wish I had more time to research so I could find just the right book to cite to establish (for my paper due the 15th) just what a serious insult that is to the poor guy.  In the current rough draft, I say that it’s like treating him as if he were a slave or child, but if I can’t cite a text for that, I’ll have to delete it.  (Which is a pity, because part of my point is about the way Augustan propaganda was encouraging the entire world to disregard the man so everyone would forget how he continually kicked Octavian’s ass.)  I have one general history of Rome in my stack, so I’m hoping the info I need will be in there, but if not… *sigh*

Uh, okay, actually, that wasn’t what I wanted to talk about.  What I really wanted to talk about was the way the praenomen is abbreviated in texts.  Because most books — even modern ones — don’t bother telling you what the abbreviations stand for, and it drives me batty sometimes.

Abbreviations I can recall at this time:

A. = ?
Ap. = Appius?
C. = Gaius
Cn. = Gnaeus
D. = Decimus
L. = Lucius
M. = Marcus
P. = Publius
Q. = Quintus
Sex. = Sextus
Sp. = ?
T. = Titus
Ti. = Tiberius

And I’m probably forgetting a lot of them.

But my real beef here — above and beyond no books being nice and telling us what the praenomen abbreviations stand for (though I could probably find them online if I bothered searching) — is two of them.

Why in the pluperfect blitzball-blasting blazes is the abbreviation for Gaius a C instead of a G?  (Worse still, I’ve seen some translators write Caius and Cnaeus instead of Gaius and Gnaeus.  What’s up with that?  Is it some kind of dialect thing?)

Okay.  Sorry about that.  I just had to get that off my chest.

Now I should get back to work.

Randomness

Published September 12, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

One day I forgot to turn off the radio when I turned off the car. (Yes, my new car has a CD player, but I keep forgetting to bring CDs with me.)

When I turned it back on again, virtually the first thing I heard was “increased libido.”

I really don’t want to know what they were advertising.


 

I was in a store that had a pink set of those refrigerator poetry magnets on the register.  (Remember those things?  No idea why this set was pink, though.)

Someone had aligned a sentence to read “She is very beautiful.”

I put a new magnet over “beautiful” so that it read “She is very bruiser.”

I feel this was a definite improvement.


 

In the running competition of me vs. dial-up-machines, I have just scored a win.  The conversation went like this.

Dial-up-machine:  Is this {my-first-name}?
Me:  Yes.
Dial-up-machine:  Wow, you’re harder to catch than a rabbit on roller skates!  (fake laughter)

I am almost always at home, btw, especially in summer.

Dial-up-machine:  I’m {so-n-so}, a paid fund-raiser for {such-n-such charity}, and we’re just calling everyone to thank them for their past support.

I had never given that charity any support, particularly not over the phone, because I never do that, as a matter of policy.  By now, I was absolutely, 100% positive that this was a machine I was talking to, but I knew that if I just said “so, you’re one of those recordings” it would say “do I really sound that bad?” because that’s the recording that the voice recognition software triggers if you say “recording” or “computer” to them.  So instead I decided to confuse it.

Me:  Did you know it’s lunchtime?
Dial-up-machine:  (dead silence)
Me:  Did you know that it’s lunchtime?
Dial-up-machine:  (dead silence)
Me:  Oh, I’m sorry, did I confuse your voice recognition software?  I did, didn’t I?
Dial-up-machine:  Now, I know times are tough out there, and–

Only when I said “I’m sorry” did it find any way to respond to me.  Wow, did I find a serious hole in their algorithm or what?  Imagine if I’d started saying something really off the deep end, like quoting Jabberwocky at it or something!

Dude, I have so got to do that next time.


 

On the inside of the door of a stall in the ladies’ room at school, someone had written “you are enough.”  (Just like that, no caps.  Nice handwriting, though.)  Now, I’m sure they meant it as a statement of encouragement.

But I’ve read enough about Japanese urban folklore regarding nasty things that lurk in public toilet stalls that I kept wondering what was going to pop out of the walls (or the toilet) to grab, devour or otherwise kill me.  (Despite that I do not live in Japan, or anywhere near it.)

This is the way my brain operates.


 

Seeing as this has been accumulating bit by bit since July 21st, I thought it was high time I hit the publish button on it.

BTW, regarding that dial-up machine thing from earlier?  I’ve gone past the stage I was at then:  now I just hang up when it gets to the “you’re harder to catch than” line.  Last time I snapped “go away, you stupid recording!” at it before I hung up.  Not that I think that’d help, mind you.  I was just annoyed.  What would help would be if I had caller ID and could avoid answering those calls in the first place, but that costs extra, so I don’t have it.  (I know, I’m cheap.  But I have expensive hobbies, so I have to pinch pennies somewhere!)

Although, speaking of automated dial-up machines, I had a good one not too long ago:

Machine:  Hi, this is Tim from the Customer Service Department.  Can you hear me okay?
(Minuscule pause in which I had barely contemplated how to answer, let alone said anything.)
Machine:  Great!

And then it started its spiel about…something to do with resorts, I think.  Thing is, whoever programmed it hadn’t bothered giving it an actual “check for an affirmative answer” routine to the “Can you hear me okay?” question, so not only would it have plowed right on ahead if someone had said “No, I can only barely make you out,” it also would have plowed right on ahead if it had been talking to my answering machine.  Pathetic.

Anyway, sorry about this lame and random post.

I’ll try to post something interesting tomorrow.  Or, failing that, whenever I next make a non-scheduled post.

Ack, speaking of which, I haven’t even thought about Monday’s post yet.  Ugh…what letter am I up to?  P, right?  Well, that’s not nearly so difficult as some of the earlier ones have been…

Why do I do this?

Published May 11, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

I keep coming up with plot ideas that I can’t possibly write, don’t have time to write, or that it just plain doesn’t make sense for me to write.

No matter how I kid myself to the contrary, I can’t write my novel about Iphis, because it’s supposed to be an instense, sexually charged (and sometimes explicit) tale of the turmoil of emotions raging inside the hut of Achilles during the final year of the Trojan War. It’s supposed to be about the three competing romantic/sexual relationships at work:  Achilles/Briseis, Patroclos/Achilles, Patroclos/Iphis.  And, of course, about how the women–particularly Iphis–go on after the deaths of the men.  I’ve got a lot of incidents planned, and a really interesting take on the post-Iliadic content (though actually I change some of the Iliadic events as well) and I feel like I’ve given them an interesting history that’s very different from what I usually give them.

But I can’t write that book.  How could I write it?  I’ve never even been on a date, let alone involved in a torrid, world-shattering romance.  And my experience with personal loss is limited to grandparents and cats.  Painful, but very different from seeing the man you love brought into the home you’ve shared with him as a maltreated corpse.

Worse still is the “what the heck am I thinking?” stuff I keep coming up with.

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Words Crush Wednesday; Y is for Yikes!

Published April 29, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

Since Greek doesn’t have Y, either, trying to find a quote to use for today’s Words Crush Wednesday was tricky.  I could have found a modern author/translator with a Y-name on the subject of Greek myths, and quoted them, or I could have talked about a concept like Youth or…uh…Young Love, or I could have looked for the ancient equivalent of a “Your Momma” fight.  (Thought about doing the latter, actually, but…since the insults in the Iliad tend not to be retorted, especially not succinctly, the closest I could think of was the argument between Teukros and the Atreidai in Sophocles’ Aias, and…it just didn’t feel right.  The setting is too terrible and serious for a “Your Momma” fight.)  But then I stumbled across a passage in Early Greek Myth by Timothy Gantz that made me say “Yikes!” and I thought, “Hey, I could use that as my Y-word!”

So, there you have it.  My Y entry for the April A-to-Z Blogging Challenge is on the theme of “Yikes!” in ancient Greek myth…with a decidedly satyric bent.

We’ll start with the one that inspired the theme, discussing the parentage of the god Pan.  (For the purposes of making it a little easier to read, I’ve removed all the parentheses where he makes direct references to the work or fragment that he’s talking about.  Most people aren’t going to get much out of things like “1F371: note emendation”, after all.  So just keep in mind that every author named below has such a parenthesis behind his name.)  After relating the best known version, Homeric Hymn 19, where Hermes fathered Pan on a daughter of Dryops, Gantz goes on to talk about rather different takes on Pan’s origin:

Other references to him in Archaic literature are rare, but it does emerge that his parentage was quite disputed:  Hekataios and Pindar apparently make him the son of Apollo and Odysseus’ wife Penelope, while for Herodotos, Cicero, Loukianos, Apollodoros, and Hyginus, he is the son of Hermes and Penelope, and the Theocritean Syrinx makes Odysseus himself the father;

Yep.  Some ancient authors had Odysseus cuckolded by a god, resulting in the goat-footed god Pan.  And given that one of the potential cuckolders is Odysseus’ great-grandfather…!

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