Polter-Cow (spectralbovine) wrote,

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The Greek Shall Inherit the Earth

It has been a very Greek month! As I mentioned long ago, I was cast as a thieving heroin addict named The Rabbit in a 1970s cop-noir take on the Orion myth in the San Francisco Olympians Festival.

And, you guys, it was like the role I was born to play. In fact, I later found out that Megan had basically written it for me, tweaking everything once I was cast. The Rabbit speaks in lots of long, fast monologues, just like me. I came up with a Rabbit voice at the first read-through that worked really well, especially since half my lines are "Aw, shit!"

But, you guys, I have this one big scene where the Rabbit is patching up his buddy, the Bull, after he's been shot, and it's basically pages and pages of me talking really fast, lots of monologues with very little breaths, in sharp contrast to the Bull's deep and slow retorts, and after our scene was over, the audience fucking burst into applause. I mean, I got applause after "Vishnu Claus," but that was expected, since they clapped for each monologue. I'd never inspired spontaneous applause in the middle of a goddamn show before.

And I also got to die onstage again! Staged reading-style, though, with a final heroin overdose monologue. It was one of my favorite roles ever, and I can't believe it was only one night, and so many people missed it.

The people who came, however, complimented me profusely! Stuart even said I was "unexpectedly amazing" (oh, I'm always amazing, he clarified, but...). He wanted to clap just after my first breathless monologue. Apparently it's hard to deliver a bunch of run-on sentences coherently? I have no idea how I managed to make it intelligible.

Oh, and my picture was in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, at least online.

The month of the Olympians seemed to be an appropriate time to read Percy Jackson and the Olympians, by Rick Riordan. Or, more accurately, have the series read to me by Jesse Bernstein. I LOVE AUDIOBOOKS YOU GUYS. Only way I survive my commute.

Percy Jackson is a twelve-year-old boy who discovers that he is someone special with a prophecy about him and he goes to a special place with people like him and with the help of his female best friend and male best friend he must defeat a villain who threatens to destroy the world. Sound familiar? Coming off a re-read of the Harry Potter series, I couldn't help making comparisons, but I got over it after the first book, for the most part.

I knew almost nothing about the series going in, so the first book was full of little surprises that would probably have been spoiled on the blurb. But I will tell you that Percy Jackson discovers he is a wizard demigod! You know how those Greek gods love fucking humans. So he goes to Camp Half-Blood, run by Chiron the centaur and good old Dionysus. And since the first book is called The Lightning Thief, he has to go on a quest to find Zeus's stolen lightning bolt. And I'll say that the first book is decent but feels sort of mediocre, a typical quest narrative.

But, oh, once you get past the introduction, the series gets really good.

Riordan's transposition of Greek mythology onto the modern world is fiendishly clever. It's not just that he has fun giving the different gods modernized personalities and puts a modern spin on the old myths, but he clearly has a very deep knowledge of Greek mythology and mythology itself, the way that society interacts with it. He puts forth a plausible reason for Mount Olympus to be at the top of the Empire State Building. He's not the first person to reinterpret Greek mythology, and he won't be the last, but the way he does it feels very fresh. He really examines the whole idea of demigods, the strange problem of all these heroes, all these illegitimate children running around, in danger from monsters that want to kill them, because that's what monsters do—and Riordan pulls out monsters I've never heard of. But more than that, he treats the concept with realism and respect. The godly spouses are understandably upset and uncomfortable having bastard children thrust in their faces. The gods try to be good parents, but they know they must also be hands-off where mortals are concerned.

The series is rife with prophecies, of course, whose meanings are unclear until they are fulfilled. Also: prophetic dreams. Well, dreams all the time. It's a slightly tiresome but ultimately necessary narrative device, but, conveniently enough, demigods have really interesting dreams! They're always seeing the past or the present or the future or something; it's a great way to have information imparted to your first-person POV protagonist.

Finally, the series has amazing chapter titles. The first chapter is called "I Accidentally Vaporize My Pre-Algebra Teacher." Other favorites include "We Meet the Sheep of Doom," "I Learn How to Grow Zombies," "We Play the Game Show of Death," and "I Take the Worst Bath Ever."

For a Greek mythology fan, this series is a must-read. It's a lot of fun. The characters are likable, and although the main character is a boy, there are a lot of great female characters throughout the series. There is, of course, a love polygon, and it's only mildly annoying and mostly adorable. The books are full of plot twists galore that had me shouting in the car. The series embraces enough tropes that it's even more effective when it also subverts them.

I was underwhelmed by the first book, but now I love the series and, dammit, I want to read the sequel series! So many more books to read! But, hey, more teenage demigods fighting monsters! What's not to like?
Tags: books, i am so awesome, personal, pimpings, real life friends, schmacting, theatre
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