For Your Amusement

This is a story I wrote for History in like… June. Anyhoo. You might get a kick out of it.


Sometimes, I wish I weren’t a Spartan. For example, when the war with Persia started, and our heralds waltzed in and declared Sparta would not permit the invasion of Ionian Greece. That gesture was the equivalent of poking a bear with a stick. Thanks, Spartan heritage! Really smart! I applaud our general lack of brains.

Life in Athens would be so much easier. Constant debating, democracy, all that corruption—well, now that I think about it, the only plus side would have been I wouldn’t have been drafted at two.

Hello. I’m Leonadas, hero of the battle of Thermopoylae. By the way, if you’re reading this, you’re probably dead. I know I am! Enjoying Elysium?

The Athenians would know more about the first part of the battle than I do, but I’ll give you a general outline, just to set the stage for my part. First of all, overland, the Persians were getting the worst luck in battle. We held the pass, middle gate, the entrance to Old Greece for all you modern day uninformed—what’s the word in English; insults in Greek were so much easier! After that, we took to the sea. Xerxes captured three of our ships before he landed. I have to give the guy credit; he is persistent.

Poseidon summoned a storm, and four hundred of the Persian ships were destroyed. The Athenians were basically like: Yay us! Thanks Poseidon! Great doing business with you buddy! Here’re a couple sacrifices for luck!

The Athenians took ship at Artemesium, (no, I have literally no idea what you modern people renamed it.) Fifteen of the Persian ships mistook our navy for theirs, and we captured them. Meanwhile, the main Persian force landed at Aphetae, and traveled to Trachis, while we occupied Pylae pass.

Unfortunately for us, the Olympic Games were going on at the time, so the advanced guards went off in advance (hmm, I wonder why.) I was with them, and I remember to this day how the Persians advanced on us. The sun glittered off their helmets and spears, and the colorful banners fluttered gaily in the wind. After much debate, we held to our positions though we knew the main army would not reach us in time.

Xerxes believed we would retreat (insufferably presumptuous I say,) and waited four days for us to do so. On the fifth day, he fell into a great rage like; how dare they not run! I rule Persia! I only floss once every seventeen years! Fear my power and my plaque!

(Okay, maybe not exactly like that.) He sent the Medes, believing they could defeat us. Sorry old chap, we’re not that frail. I fought alongside my comrades all day. They sent their finest troops, and attacked again and again. We held our lines, though we were few. At last, a filthy traitor betrayed us to the Persians, showing a way to our position.

The rest of the Greeks fled. That was probably smart, but a Spartan never deserts a post. I united the Spartans under my command. A man brought us news that there were Persians enough to hide the sun.

Diences turned to me with a laugh. “This is pleasant news that the stranger from Trachis brings us: if the Persians hide the sun, we shall have our battle in the shade!”

I clapped him on the shoulder.

For hours we fought, each man sustaining great injuries. I still remember my spirit lingering on the field until each of my comrades died. We gave the rest of Greece time to regroup. How dearly did we pay the price. Sparta—the only welfare state to have citizens who never got lazy.


Like it? Hate it? Think the Spartans didn’t use that much irony and sarcasm?

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God bless you!

Advent and dying Christian Culture

WARNING! THIS POST CONTAINS CATHOLICISM AND CHRISTIANITY. UNASHAMEDLY.

Advent: noun.

  1. The arrival of a notable person, thing, or event
  2. The first season of the Christian church year, leading up to Christmas and including the four preceding Sundays
  3. the coming or second coming of Christ

If you were invited to be the guest of honor at the birthday party of an incredibly kind, generous king, would you go? Almost everyone would. You’d run out and find the best dress or suit money could buy you. You’d dig out ancient cuff-links or your grandmother’s priceless earrings.  You’d shower, you’d shave, you’d put on the king’s favorite cologne or perfume, you’d get the best present you could think of. You’d prepare, and on the big day, you’d turn up in your best.

You’d never think of celebrating ahead of time without the king, or celebrating the fact it was snowing or that you got to give and get a lot of presents. You wouldn’t forget the king’s party.

But you see, you are invited to a great King’s birthday party, and almost no one comes in their best. You celebrate ahead of time with Christmas lights and parties and when the big day comes, you’re almost bored at the real party. You haven’t prepared, you haven’t gotten the king a gift, and you forget.

By now, at least half the street has the Christmas lights up. By now, you’re jiving to Jingle Bells or Rockin’ round that Christmas tree. You’re watching movies that jaw about the real meaning of Christmas with your kids, and all of them claim different reasons Christmas is special. They claim the Holidays are about time with family, or about giving thanks for what we have. They claim that the Holidays are a time to give back.

They’ve forgotten the real reason we give back.

We give back because a little boy was born two thousand years ago. We give back because he had nothing, and he still gave. We give back because he was spat upon, beaten, and nailed through his wrists and ankles onto a cross. We give back because he loved. We give back because he loves us. That’s why we should give back, anyway.

We’re given four whole weeks to prepare. The first Sunday of Advent was yesterday. It isn’t Christmas yet. It’s time to fast, to pray, to give back, to prepare. We can celebrate then, but until then, what is your gift to Christ?

On Christmas, what are you giving him? What will you have done by then? What will you ask him for, on Christmas?

Give gifts on Christmas to your friends and family. Spend time with family. But on Christmas morning, offer Jesus a great gift. Offer him the best gift you can give.

Offer him your heart.

Dress in your best.

Sing Gloria at the top of your lungs.

Remember what Christmas truly is.

It’s the Birthday of the Best King Ever.

Until then, get ready to give Christ the best Birthday you can.

Happy Advent, and may God bless you!

Late for Dinner

I posted nothing on Thanksgiving, because this is my Thanksgiving post. We shouldn’t just be thankful for things on one day, but all year round. This is a sweet, lonely, heart touching story (I hope) and I want you to read it with open hearts and open minds. There are references to Christianity, but mostly this is just a family story.

Please read.

Late for Dinner


          Elsie was sitting on the couch, reading. The grandfather clock chimed four, and she stretched languidly, and rubbed her sore feet. She’d gone Black Friday shopping with Great Aunt Matilda. Every family member had a turn doing it. If you thought a seventy eight year old lady couldn’t run a marathon, you’d be mistaken.

          Elsie yawned. It had been a late night and an earlier morning, and she wanted to curl up in bed. She’d hosted Thanksgiving again, and she’d cooked up a storm. Everything had been perfect—well, nearly. Everyone had come except Grandpa George.

          Elsie strolled into the kitchen, and got out the plates. She pulled out all the leftovers but the turkey; Friday was meatless in Old Catholic traditions. Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. She spooned out the cranberry chutney, the potatoes, the stuffing; set a couple rolls in the oven; pulled out a bottle of unsophisticated home-made wine, and set the table. The microwave chimed as she set the glasses and napkins on the table. She cut two pieces of pumpkin pie, dolloped whip cream on top, and set the desert plates in the fridge.

          She lit a taper and put it on the counter, and spruced up the slightly wilted bouquet of ferns and wild flowers. They still smelled great, even if they didn’t look as nice.

          She set everything on the table. She waited.

          Ten minutes later, at exactly four thirty, a firm knock sounded on the door. Elsie got up, smoothed her ugly sweater—a holiday tradition, of course—and opened the door.

          Grandpa George’s eyebrows were even bushier than Elsie remembered. His hair was whiter, and he had a few more wrinkles. He wore a winter coat, and a faded flannel shirt tucked into gray slacks. “Sorry I’m late for dinner.” He said. His voice was still gruff as ever.

          Elsie hugged him. “It’s fine. You just missed the crowd. The food’s still warm.” She said. She said the same thing every time she hosted Thanksgiving, for nine years.

          “Gladys couldn’t make it. I’m sorry, Elsie.” He said.

          Elsie swallowed the lump in her throat. Her Grandmother had been dead for nine years now. “I understand. Thanks for making it anyway, Grandpa.” She blinked; glad she was still in his hug so he couldn’t see the beginnings of tears.

          “I wouldn’t miss it.” He said, brusquely, and released her.

          “Come on in.” Elsie said. She led him past the elegant oak dining room table, now stripped of yesterday’s glories, and into the kitchen, where her tiny table stood. Two identical plates sat there. Salt, pepper, butter, and rolls in a basket sat in the middle of the table, with the bouquet off to one side. Elsie pulled the cork from the wine, and poured them each a glass as Grandpa took off his coat. He adjusted his handgun holster; he still had a concealed carry permit at nearly eighty.

          Grandpa George sat down at the table, and smelled the wine. “Everything looks nice, Elsie. Thanks for saving me a plate.”

          Elsie smiled at him across the table. “Sure, Grandpa. Anytime.”

          Grandpa George folded his hands. Elsie bowed her head. “Dear Lord. We’re thankful for this great food, this warm house, and these fine hands which prepared the meal. We’re thankful for your blessings, and for your care and mercy all year round. We gather here today, reminded of how gracious you are, and we ask you to bless this food, this table, and these people. We ask for the repose of our dear departed brethren, and we thank you for everything you give us. In Christ, Amen.”

          “Amen,” Elsie said.

          Grandpa George lifted his glass. “Happy Thanksgiving, Elsie.”

          Elsie touched his glass with hers. “Happy Thanksgiving.”


Liked it? Hated it? Is it a sin to humanity?

Please comment and tell me!

God Bless! Bye!

Heartbreaking Poetry

I wrote this for Veterans. I would have posted it on Veteran’s day but… Stuff happened.

Anyway, this is about the Veterans of the more recent wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and of the Cold War. Both my mother’s biological father and my mother’s step-father went through this, and neither of them were the same.


ADMITTEDLY

Admittedly, they sold their souls.

They are told they are monsters.

They keep straight faces.

They laugh it off.

But when they are alone,

They take off the mask.

No one understands.

They sold their souls.

There is nothing left.

They fought.

They died.

They watched their brothers die.

They had to feel the blood on their hands.

They don’t need to be told they are monsters.

Because they already know.

War is hell.

That makes them the demons.

Was freedom worth it?

They don’t know.

They aren’t even sure they care anymore.

They try so hard.

They try so bloody hard in a blood stained world that doesn’t even want them.

it feels like they are monsters.

it feels like they are traitors.

The man

Who said war was glorious

Clearly never fought a war.

I watch them.

I hear their stories.

I cry for them.

They lost everything.

And we don’t bloody care.

They are the heroes.

We are the venomous snakes.

Why did they even fight for us in the first place?

I won’t understand till I fight too.

I’ll listen, though.

I’ll listen.

Always.


Love it? Hate it?

May God bless our veterans.

Bye, guys.

One of Us…

Heather Dale. This post was inspired by her music. Actually, it was inspired by many things, but Heather Dale wrote a song called “One of Us.” (If you listen to it, listen to the fast version.)

This is the long-promised post on strong female characters. Strong female characters… Here we go.

There are several stereotypes or cliches in this field. There  are the “quick tempered damsels” and the “stubborn girls.” People tend to write girls who are loud and noisy as strong female characters, but there is something that ought to be understood. Female characters are strong in different ways.  Stubborn girls and hardheaded young women can actually be weaker than other the girls who are patient and give ground.

 I personally have a deep-seated hatred of damsels in distress. I hate writing girls who only sit around and wait to be rescued. I prefer girls like Megara in Disney’s Hercules.

“I’m a damsel. I’m in distress. I can handle this. Have a nice day!”

I have loved her since that first line of introduction. I don’t hate girls getting rescued. I just hate them sitting still and waiting to be rescued.

I also hate the idea that female characters have to not need men to be strong. Let me put it this way. I have nothing against single women in literature; I think that girls not needing boys on principal is ridiculous. I have an elder brother who has never been anything but wonderful to me. If he died, or if I had to do without him for twelve months, I would not do very well. My Dad is also a huge part of my life. My point is that every character, no matter how strong, has to have friends. You have to sleep sometime.  Man was not built to be alone. We are built to be communal. Sure, the community doesn’t have to be constant; you can live up in Antarctica pretty much alone, so long as you can survive.

Boys are sorta necessary. For one thing, you can punch them in the arm and not hurt them like you would with a girl. They also give killer high fives and knuckle knockers.

One of my favorite strong female characters that I have created says that boys are imbeciles, but she only says it because she wants to distance herself from boys. She’s been through so much pain that she hates the idea of anyone being in control of her but her.

That’s Brynn. Brynn is exceptionally private and hard to understand. She also carries around a long sword pretty much everywhere, with a healer’s satchel full of medicine over one arm. She believes in being able to fix anything that gets broken, but she can’t fix broken hearts. She knows it. That’s why she guards her heart. She also hates burdening people with her problems. She wakes up screaming with nightmares two nights out of five; therefore she fears someone being there to hear her.

Arden is her counterbalance. He’s a knight, quiet and private like her, but he doesn’t know how to handle her at first. He knows right off that she isn’t a damsel in distress, never will be, but he knows she needs help for entirely different reasons.

I love their character dynamic and their working relationship like crazy. Arden only calls Brynn by her proper name when he is voicing his opinion or in private. They both respect each other.

Brynn may say she thinks men are imbeciles, but she knows they aren’t. She’s smarter than she looks.

She loves her little brother and her father to bits as well. I like the way she’s independent, but I love the way that she doesn’t have to be, because Arden will always be there when she needs him. Friendships are beautiful.

I love my strong girls.

Bye Guys and God Bless!