December 22nd, 2008


And Now For My Annual Tradition...

What's this empire coming to?  Now they want us to stop greeting people with "Io Saturnalia!"  "We have all these different cultures in Rome," they tell us.  "We shouldn't offend anyone," they tell us, "We've got to be inclusive."

We've got the barbarians from the north with their tree decorations and their fire rituals.  And the weirdos from Gaul, cutting mistletoe with a golden sickle.  And the Mithraists, the Zoroastrians, the Isis cults, and, of course, those characters who hang out in the catacombs.  "Hail, Winter!" we're supposed to say.  I ask you, what next:  we lose the feast?  We stop the Solstice parties?   No more honoring Ops, goddess of abundance?

I was buying some greenery down by the Forum the other day, and there's old Macrobius with some Visigoth chick, and she goes, "Gut Jule."  And I go, "Hey! In this country, we say, "Io, Saturnalia! Maybe you should go back to where you came from."  Then Macrobius goes, "She can't, she's a slave." 


At this time of year, the Visigoths sacrifice a pig and burn a special log that they dance around, instead of acting like normal people and going to the temple of Saturn. 

I swear, I was at this party over at Septima Commodia's house the other day.  She always has a Saturnalia party.  Anyway, she decorated the place with prickly green leaves.  "It's holly," she said, "The latest fashion from Brittania.  They all do it in Londinium." 

It gets worse. 

She had this statue of some goddess from Ultima Thule or somewhere, name of Frigga, sitting right there on the dining room mensa.  I mean, this is darned near blasphemous.  I'd be scared about what the lares and penates would do if I put that thing in my house.  But Septima Commodia just said, "Oh get over it! We're cosmopolitan around here."  Cosmopolitan.  That's what they call it.  Well by Jupiter, I live in Latium.  I'm a Roman. And this empire was founded on the principle that the gods, our gods, must be honored at the appropriate time and in the appropriate way.  None of this foreign heretical nonsense or these strange customs from Germania or Hibernia or Palestine.  I say, "Io, Saturnalia!" and if you don't like it, you can leave.

-- Diane Roberts

Sneaking Education Into His Geek Indoctrination

One of the ongoing challenges we're facing this school year is getting C-Monster to read.  Or, more properly, getting him to read something that isn't a comic book, or some retelling of an excerpt from a Star Wars film with more photos than text.

This weekend, thanks to the chance D&D conversation at the bowling alley, he's been all about D&D again. When are we going to play some more? (Answer hazy, ask again later).  What's the toughest thing I've ever face?  Etcetera, etcetera, ad nauseam...

Yesterday, while at the bookstore for a wholly unrelated task, I chanced upon A Practical Guide to Dragons, by Lisa Trumbauer.  At first glance, it's very similar to books like Dragonology, and The Book of the Dragon, and that sort of fantasy disguised as science aimed at kids genre.  Nicely bound, pretty illustrations, if you've seen them, you know the drill.

The difference is, A Practical Guide to Dragons was published by an imprint of Wizards of the Coast.  And the dragons it details are straight out of D&D, specifically the world of Krynn.  I left it on his bed and suggested he take a look at after dinner.  Since then, the boy has been an endless stream of dragon "facts," citing differences in relative wingspans, weights, eating habits, linguistics (there's an English-Draconic glossary), and temperament.  I've had to explain to him several times that there's a big difference between a dragon being "good" and "harmless."  I'm not sure he's quite figured it out.

Best of all, the way he's regurgitating facts makes it clear he's reading it, at least in bits and pieces.  Now if we can just get him working on some more of the "A-Z Mysteries."
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