Monday, April 30, 2012

Zen in the Debacle of Grammar: "Honey, that dribbly mud-man is eying me!" "You mean, eyeing you, dear."

This is one of those words that, when you say it, everybody knows what you're talking about. But writing it down, well, that's another story. A boring story with a 50-question, write-in-the-answer quiz afterwards. I started making one up but could only think of one question: "Which do you like, eying or eyeing?"

From the deep, meticulous research I've been undertaking for the last ten minutes or so, as far as I can tell no one can agree on this one. Something or other about "eying" being old English, and just not looking right on the page. According to this random online spell-checker, "eying" is wrong. But the spell-checker here on Blogger and the one on OpenOffice flag "eyeing" as incorrect. (Of course, they also say that dribbly is not a word, when it is.) Oxford Dictionary and Merriam-Webster say that both "eying" and "eyeing" are correct.

It seems to be a matter of preference, and no matter which spelling you decide to go with, there will likely be someone who objects. If one offends your sensibilities, just use the other and move on with your life. Don't, I repeat, don't, waste your time writing blog posts about it. (Oops. Too late.) Just be consistent. Don't do what I did in this blog post's title. If you use "eying" at one point in your novel, don't flip-flop to "eyeing" the next time around.

Thoughts? Condemnations? Readers and writers, which do you prefer, "eying" or "eyeing"? And more importantly, do you think "dribbly" can be used legitimately or is just sort of silly-sounding?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Six Sunday - 4/29/2012 - From "The Fountain of Eden"

Team Myth walked up to the sipapuni, hidden deep within the sprawling natural wonder of Tranquil Forest. The morning rain had let up, and the sun now peeked through the clouds, portending yet another hot and humid August day. But this mattered not to Team Myth, for they would soon be out of this world. They stopped and stared at the effervescent spring, the entrance to the World Path.

"So what do we do?" asked Jack, eying the fizzling waterhole with skepticism. "Jump in and go for a swim?"

The scene above takes place just before Jack Whiskey and company descend to the ancient Greek Underworld to rescue a missing friend. Sipapuni, a Hopi Indian word that means "place of emergence", is what mythological beings call the Fountain of Youth.

"The Fountain of Eden" is just 99 cents on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords until May 1st. And please don't forget to head over to Six Sunday to check out the short, sweet posts from all the great writers. Until next time . . . peace out.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Twisted Myth Files (4): Johnny Appleseed

Bringer of apples to the early American colonists. Born 1774, died 1845. One of the first heroes of American folklore. In life, a devout follower of the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg.

Most famous story: His life-story, although there is a dispute as to what purpose the apple orchards he left in his wake served: to eat . . . or to drink?

Powers and Abilities: (1) His feet are said to be so callused that he can walk over hot coals without feeling it. (2) Brews some damn good beer. The Olde Eden Brewery's Appleseed Applejack is so . . . tasty . . . that it, er, defies description.

Appleseed is the protector and ever-vigilant sentry of the town of Eden and the Fountain of Youth, which acts as a gateway between Earth and the myriad Worlds of Myth. How he obtained his intimate connection with the Fountain, often called the sipapuni by mythological beings, remains a mystery. The most popular theory is that in his wandering during the early 19th century the man John Chapman somehow found the sipapuni and drained a measure of his own blood into the spring, his life-fluid merging with the Water of Life. If this is true, all mythos, at least when we manifest on Earth, have a little Appleseed coursing through us. But the mythical jury is still convened on that one.

UPDATE - 4/25/12: Sometimes men transform into myths; oftentimes legend trumps real life. Keep in mind that the mythical Johnny Appleseed—and not the man John Chapman—is the owner of the Olde Eden Brewery & Taphouse. As an avatar of drunkenness, it is rumored that Appleseed has absorbed all the gods of wine, the vine, alcohol, etc. in existence into himself. If this is true (which in this agent's opinion is highly unlikely—although, come to think of it, I haven't seen Dionysus in some time), he is perhaps the most powerful mythological being residing on Earth. Regardless, he is to be treated as highly dangerous. Agents of the MythCourt, DO NOT ENGAGE.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

End of April Sale!

Coinciding with the new blog series I've been running—the Twisted Myth files, which showcases the mythological characters from The Fountain of Eden: A Myth of Birth, Death, and Beer —for the remainder of the month of April the e-book will be discounted to 99 cents in the Kindle Store and at Barnes & Noble. So get yourself a copy while it's cheap! It's mythology, with a twist of hilariousness!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Twisted Myth Files (3): Persephone

Iron Queen of the ancient Greek Underworld. Bride of Hades. Daughter of Zeus and Demeter.

Most famous story: Her abduction. Persephone, a young goddess of Olympus, was out picking flowers one day. Hades, who had been lusting after her for some time, lured her away from her friends with the intoxicating scent of a narcissus flower. The earth opened up, and the King of the Dead dragged his unwilling new bride down to his Underworld domain. Her mother, Demeter, goddess of the Earth, was so distraught that she refused to bring about the springtime, and a harsh winter descended on the planet. After a time Zeus intervened in the vicious quarrel and convinced Hades to release Persephone. But while in the Underworld she swallowed the seeds of a pomegranate offered her by Hades. If one eats the food of the dead, one is cursed to stay in the Underworld forever. However, a compromise was reached in order to appease Demeter and get the seasons back in order. For eight months of the year Persephone would be free to roam the planet, but during the colder months she would be forced to remain in the Underworld. Check Ovid's Metamophoses and the Homeric Hymn to Demeter for a more detailed report.

Powers and Abilities: As Persephone leaves Earth for the Underworld, winter sets over the land, and with her return she brings the spring. Therefore she is a goddess of both death and renewal, and she can both give life and take it with the brush of a finger. Any agents who attempt engagement should wear full body-armor, or an invisibility cloak, or douse themselves in enchanted invisible ink. Something, or you may end up back on your original World of Myth before you can say "narcissus".

UPDATE - 4/19/12: The Iron Queen has divorced Hades with the approval of the MythCourt. Hades has also agreed to release her from the Curse of Pomegranate so that she may remain on Earth full-time. For the past eight months she's been tending bar at the Olde Eden Brewery and Taphouse alongside new boyfriend Jack Whiskey. Agents of the MythCourt are closely monitoring their relationship.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Twisted Myth Files (2): Bodhidharma

"The One who Came from the West". Brought Zen practice from India to China in the 6th century CE. Direct dharma descendant of the Buddha. 28th Patriarch of Indian Buddhism. 1st Patriarch of Chinese Ch├ín—which became Japanese Zen—Buddhism.

Most famous stories: (1) Encounter with Emperor Wu, where in response to the ruler's query as to the highest truth of Buddhism, he replies, "Vast emptiness, nothing holy."   This is the first koan in the Blue Cliff Record. (2) The origins of the tea plant: Sometime during his nine-year-long wall-gazing session, Bodhidharma found himself struggling to stay awake during meditation. So he proceeded to cut off his eyelids. Where the eyelids hit the ground, strange new plants began to grow: tea plants. Since then Buddhist practitioners have used tea to help them stay awake and maintain concentration during meditation. (3) Three years after his death, Bodhidharma was seen walking in the Himalayas by a government official named Song Yun. The old monk was barefoot, carrying a pole with a single sandal mounted atop it. This wild story roused enough interests in the monks of Shaolin Monastery that they found cause to break open and enter the tomb where Bodhidharma was interred. The monk's remains were not there; all that was left in the tomb was a single sandal.

Powers and abilities: Unclear, except that he relies on some obscure power he calls "mind" as opposed to the pool of human imagination called "ken" that mythological beings draw upon to work their magic. An expert at kung-fu, it is widely believed that he is the inventor of the ancient martial art, which evolved from an exercise regimen called "The Eighteen Hands of Lohan" he invented during his time at Shaolin Monastery in China in the 6th century CE. Though he appears quite elderly, he is said to move fast when the situation calls for it.

UPDATE 4/14/12: Nowadays, head monk at New Shaolin Monastery in Eden, Virginia. It is also unclear whether Bodhidharma is human or mythological; with historical figures it's sometimes difficult to tell. The stories that he has no legs (which atrophied and fell off during his nine-year wall-meditation session), that he is in essence a human torso floating about the streets of Eden, must be wrong. Multiple MythCourt agents have reported seeing skinny legs shuffling underneath his patchwork robes. Some of them, after blowing their cover in no recognizable way, have even reported taking kicks to the face from feet attached to these allegedly nonexistent legs.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"The Wave" is now free on!

My short story "The Wave" went free on Amazon today. Finally. It's a fable—at 410 words, I'd feel bad charging for it—and I've been trying for months to get the price dropped.

A quick tip for indie authors trying to entice Amazon to play the price-match game. "The Wave" was priced at 99 cents under the 35% royalty plan for the past couple of months, and I reported the lower Smashwords price on its Amazon product page every couple of days. For weeks, nothing happened. But a week ago I changed tactics, switching to the 70% royalty plan and raising the price to $2.99. And lo and behold, a few days later the price is nada, zero, zilch, where it will (hopefully) stay forever. Something to do with the 70% royalty plan versus the 35%? I don't know. Either way, it worked. So check out "The Wave". It's free!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Twisted Myth Files (1): Whiskey Jack

Trickster god and culture hero of Algonquian mythology. Virtually unknown in modern times, but at one point this dude was famous. Variations on the name Whiskey Jack include Wisakedjak and Weesack-Kachak. Very similar to Manabozho of Anishinaabe mythology; in many tales the pair are interchangeable.

No need to throw Wisakecahk into the muddle. One, no one can pronounce it, and two, that guy had problems. Unknowingly eating your own scabs? Wowza.

Most famous stories: (1) "Earth-diver" Creation Myth where he creates the world after a great flood. (2) Wesakaychak and the Ducks, where the Trickster requests wings from a flock of ducks, who reluctantly grant his misguided wish. After a series of misadventures (similar to but of a lighter tone than the Greek myth of Icarus), Whiskey Jack decides to stay earthbound.

Powers and abilities: Mostly unknown, but he can expand things already created.

Whiskey Jack is a Trickster, and in some stories comes complete with all the usual foibles. But he is sometimes portrayed as more than his archetype: a "Trickster-Transformer".

An interesting fact about Whiskey Jack: the name is a corruption. Newly-arrived Europeans, upon early encounters with the native tribes of what is today the northeastern U.S. and southeastern Canada, misheard a few things. And so "Wesakaychak" and its many lingual variations became "Whiskey Jack". Quick, English-speaker, say the names, one after the other, five times fast.

UPDATE - 4/9/12: There are no depictions of Whiskey Jack to be found with lackluster searches on Google, unless he's transformed into the bird he gifts his name to. The reports that he's been working as a colonial reenactor in Eden, Virginia, and had a role in the disturbance there last summer involving the Fountain of Youth and the Cosmic Dancer, have yet to be verified. Earthbound agents of the MythCourt are now closely monitoring his case.