Michille: Ancient Love Stories

Odysseus_Penelope_Louvre

In this terracotta relief circa 450 BC, Odysseus, disguised as a beggar, tries to make Penelope recognize him.

Last May, I completed my Master of Liberal Arts program, and many of you know that my final project was a contemporary romance based on Sophocles’ Antigone (which is also a hero’s journey). My interest in ancient love stories was piqued and I’ve been looking at more to see if I can use them as fodder for other stories. I think a writer friend of Justine also uses ancient couples as fodder for her stories. In Harry Brown’s updated version of the story of Achilles and Hector, The Stars in Their Courses, he took the story out of ancient Greece and set it in the Old West. Achilles becomes Arch Eastmere, a gunslinger, hired to help Mark Lacy (Menelaos) get his wife (Ellen/Helen) back from Pax (Paris) after Pax abducted her. Brown brings other characters along on the ride, including Hallock (Hector), Alan (Agamemnon), and Oliver Swindon (Odysseus). There are a lot of parallels between The Iliad and The Stars in Their Courses, but Brown switched some of it up: Achilles fights from great glory in battle, but Arch Eastmore does it for a paycheck; there are no gods, but the weather and the land are described using terms that give them power over man; and he adds a hooker for Arch and the sheriff to fight over. Continue reading

Michaeline: Valentines and Love Letters

scroll with Friendship, Love and Truth weaving between symbols of love.

The many aspects of Valentine’s Day. Love is a lot more complicated than “Roses are Red . . .” and a lot more diverse than Boy-Meets-Girl. (via Wikimedia Commons)

Valentine’s Day can be fraught with expectations, and it seems that these days we almost need to put a trigger warning on the topic because so many vocal people have been so badly traumatized by the holiday.

But I’d like to start this Valentine Week from the perspective of plenty. You may not have the perfect love partner, or indeed any love partner. But if you think of love in a broader sense, it’s a good day to be thankful for the love in your life. That might be family, or friends, or a pet. One thing is for sure, though. If you are reading this blog, you have a love for romantic stories. Let’s share the love. Continue reading

Michaeline: Groundhog Day Always Loops Back to Love

Celtic Heart Knot, intricate with many crossings over and under.

If it were a straight line, it wouldn’t be beautiful, and it wouldn’t be a heart. There’s a certain satisfaction in working through the loops, and arriving back where we started. (Via Wikimedia Commons)

Groundhog Day is one of my favorite movies, and I’m trying to establish it as a personal February tradition. Obnoxiously cocky weatherman Phil Connors gets stuck in a time loop that repeats Feb. 2 over and over — perhaps for thousands of years, alternative time. He eventually becomes a good person, wins the love of his producer, Rita, and breaks out of the holding pattern.

This year, I wanted to think about the role love plays in this movie.

My first, standard thought was, “This movie is about Phil’s journey to learning to love, and be lovable.” Sounds good, right? But then, inspired by Elizabeth’s post, I decided to meditate in some hot water. The question came to me, “What did Phil do to make himself lovable?”

“Maybe it’s all about self-esteem?” The thought floated through my head like a bubble on the surface of the bath. “Bingo! Of course it is!” Just like Whitney Houston sings, learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all, right?

Note to self: deep thoughts that can be condensed into pop lyrics are a little suspicious. Continue reading