Category: Cool Stuff (Page 2 of 9)

Clash of the Gods

clash-of-the-gods-hercules.jpgIn my quest for putting Christian beliefs in perspective, I have been teaching Mika about Ancient Egyptian and Greek mythology – I figure, the most she knows about gods, the more she’ll realize that it’d be too arbitrary for any one of them to be real. We’ve been reading ancient myths, which is always fun, and now we’ve discovered a new, great resource for solidifying and expanding whatever knowledge we’ve acquired: the History’s Channel’s Clash of the Gods series (now available on DVD). The series has hour-long episodes on Hercules, Hades, Medusa, Zeus, the Minotaur, Odysseus, Tolkien’s Monsters, Beowulf and Thor. So far we’ve watched the first three I’ve listed.
The shows are great. Like typical History Channel productions they are shamelessly dramatic and sensationalistic, with vivid, dramatic and cartoonish recreations and a thundering voice leading the story. A little bit annoyingly – to me – there is a bit of repetition, things being told twice or thrice, but I think that’s probably good for children. Most importantly, the content is excellent. The stories are told mostly lineally, with cuts to actual historians and university professors, who (also very animatedly) provide clarification not just on the story but on the symbolism and meaning of the story. These are not very deep analysis, but enough to give you an idea of /why/ the ancient Greeks might have believed on what they believed. And indeed, why /we/ believe what /we/ believe. For example, Mika and I just watched the episode on Hades last night. I was clearly totally ignorant about Hades myself, as I didn’t realize that the Christian conception of Heaven and Hell (at least the post-Dante conception, I don’t know if the one before Dante was different, yet another hole in my knowledge base) is right out of Greek mythology. It’s no wonder, as Christianity is a product of Hellenistic culture – but I’d never made the connection before, even though I’d often wondered where the Christian concepts of heaven and hell came from (as these were not existent in the Old Testament, if I well remember).
While watching this show, I have come to realize that I have not been good about telling Mika about Hebrew and Christian mythology and beliefs – which is a problem, as she then ends up believing the idiocies her school mates tell her. I guess they get in many “theological” discussions, and as the other kids’ knowledge of religion(s) is null, they end up confusing themselves and Mika at the same time. For example, Mika seems to have talked to them about Zeus being the king of the gods, and the kids have thus appropriated him saying that he is Jesus’ father. I love playing Eris – but then again, you knew that 🙂
Anyway, going back to the show. I fully recommend it as great watching for parents and school-age kids together (I think it’d be a bit beyond Camila’s understanding, though she did like hearing about Medusas’ story when I told it to her, sans the pornographic parts). I’m certainly looking forward to watching the other episodes – and so is Mika.

Circus class redux

A while ago I wrote about my kids circus taking classes at Trapeze Arts in Oakland. They’ve just completed the first 8-week cycle, and they had a blast. We’ve signed them up for the next cycle and I’m hoping they’ll stick with it.
Today they had their “show” and I went to see them for the first time. I loved it! I don’t think we could have chosen a better activity for them to do.
What my kids themselves did was not particularly complex, some head rolls mostly, some simple pyramid building and that was about that. Some other kids did very complex routines on the curtains, trapeze and ropes – but I’m sure they’ve been doing it for much longer. But what I really enjoyed was the sense of fun that accompanied the whole show – in particular the parts for the younger kids. The teachers use their shyness and inexperience for unadulterated comic relief, and the kids love it. Indeed, because it’s a circus class, rather than gymnastics, you can celebrate and laugh at mistakes – and really, not necessarily know if they are mistakes or part of the show.
Anyway, if you are looking for an activity for your kids, and you don’t want them to get into competitive, life-consuming crap, you should definitely consider this.


krampuss.jpgIt’s late in life, no doubt, but I’m happy to have discovered a new Xmas character to make a fuss about: Krampus. Krampus is some type of monster (though he looks like a demon) who travels with St. Nicholas (aka Santa Claus) taking the kids who have been very, very bad. In Europe, St. Nicholas actually makes his rounds on Dec. 5th-6th, so that’s when Krampus appears as well. And that’s when we are going to feast him next year 🙂 I’ll need to get some Krampus decorations, of course, so if you’re still wondering what to get me for Xmas – there you go.
To my delight, I’ve found several Krampus songs on youtube – which makes me ask, why are they not being taught in school? If it’s OK to worship Santa in school (or Christ, according to the San Leandro School District), why not acknowledge Krampus as well? After all, Santa Claus is nothing but a perversion of St. Nicholas anyway.

In Europe, people get dressed as Krampus and go on the streets amusing tourists, or so it seems. Here is one video (but there are tons in youtube):

So now you know, next year, around Dec. 5th, we’ll celebrate Krampus day 🙂

San Leandro: Zocalo Matches donations for Davis St.

I just got this e-mail from Tim Holmes, the owner of Zocalo Coffeehouse. Zocalo is matching the donations made to the Davis Street Family Resource Center, a San Leandro organization that provides goods and services to the poor.
Here is their press release:
Decorate our Tree for Davis Street

San Leandro, CA – December 14, 2009 – Zocalo Coffeehouse is holding an tree decorating fundraiser for the Davis Street Family Resource Center.
For nearly 40 years the Davis Street Family Resource Center has assisted tens of thousands of families in our community via health clinics, job search, childcare, clothing and food banks, and more.
The number of families in need turning to Davis Street has increased 5X in the past year alone and they are straining to support these needs. More than ever in it’s history Davis Street’s mission is critical to San Leandro.
Come down to Zocalo between now and the end of the year and donate an ornament to our tree and not only will 100% of the money go directly to Davis Street, but Zocalo will match up to $5000, for a combined possible total of $10,000, making your money go twice as far and helping Davis Street to serve even more in need.
Ornaments range from a $5 red heart to the $500 tree topper star! Donate $1000 (and remember, we’ll match your donation) and you can choose whatever you like for your tree topper!
A donation to Davis Street is the perfect gift to the community.
Zocalo Coffeehouse is an independent, locally-owned coffeehouse and roastery, located in San Leandro, California. The name, a Mexican-Spanish word meaning “town square” or “town center,” was chosen to reflect the goal of community building, focusing not only on the product, but on the place itself. It’s not just about coffee or tea, its about the community.
Tim Holmes
Zocalo Coffeehouse
645 Bancroft Ave.
San Leandro, CA
PH: 510-384-1977

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