Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Letters from Saturn: The Rules are the Rules

Dear John,
It is with great pleasure that I heard you embraced my energy on Saturday as you played in your first Monopoly tournament.
I love Monopoly for so many reasons. First, its rules are very simple and clear. It really irks me when people use those “house rules” to keep more money in the game. And have some of these people ever READ the actual rules? I couldn’t believe when people didn’t know that if you refuse to purchase a property it gets auctioned immediately. How do you think these properties get out into the game so the real trading—and building—can begin? The tournament rules are the ones that come with every Monopoly set, so there’s no excuse for people not to understand them or abide by them. They’re beautiful in their simplicity. I know you already know this…but I wish other people could see it like I can.
The whole building aspect of the game is one I adore. There’s nothing like the anticipation of plunking down cash for something real and solid like a group of houses. Just the thought of a whole group of houses on the reds or the oranges makes me so proud. And then, the even greater fun of waiting for those people to come around and slam right into them. Then it’s time for them to pony up. When they mortgage property to pay you and you land on it, you can smile as they lose out on the rent. It’s a wonderful thing, let me tell you. And then if they get the cash to un-mortgage them, they try to get out of paying that 10% fee to the bank. No way! You give the bank what you owe and you don’t cry about it.  
It’s funny that most people don’t see what I love about it the most: It’s ruthless. Why don’t the official rules use extra money for landing on free parking, or allow the bank to give loans to other people without mortgaging property? Because it takes longer to crush your opponents that way. The purpose of this game is to bankrupt your opponents. I don’t care if they’re 8 or 80, if they’re blood relatives, chosen family, or strangers. Once it’s GO time, they are all adversaries who do not deserve your mercy or kindness. Certainly, act civilly to them during the game, but in this contest, nice guys finish bankrupt.
Overall, I was pretty pleased with the way you played. In the first round, your opponents were all under 15 except for one guy. He got hold of the yellow color group right away, but no one landed on them much and he had made poor financial decisions, so that was all he had. Grabbing Park Place while you could was an excellent choice, even though that teenage girl wouldn’t trade you for Boardwalk, even though the offer you made her was completely fair. She held out and wanted to do it when she was almost out of money and STILL wanted to sell it for its stated value? Glad you refused. There was no benefit to you then since you would have had to invest heavily in houses and hotels on that strip. If there had been more than five minutes left in the game, you’d have done it. The railroads were the only monopoly you managed to grab the whole day, but they served you well and you came in second in the first round.
Your second-round performance left something to be desired. I’m not a believer in luck, but I’ll just say that Jupiter must have been off gambling at some casino instead of using his influence in your favor—likely with Neptune in tow—during that contest. You bargained shrewdly for the railroads, but then no one landed on them. And you just can’t compete with color groups on the entire first half of the board. Those hotels on the light purples really did you in. I think six people is too many for a game of Monopoly anyway, but that was how the tournament was set up, and rules are rules. At least you went down nobly in defeat. And that little 8-year-old brat who had no idea what he was doing was totally annoying. At least he could have put his money and property down on the table like the rest of you.
It’s amazing how many people were there to have FUN. Some astrological planets like Venus or Neptune are more concerned about enjoyment. When you sit down to a game like Monopoly, or any other competition, it is your sacred duty to compete and win. Remember that time that you destroyed your 7 year old nephew in chess? He had been making up the rules as he went along, and your mother had played with him before and hadn’t known any better. He learned something that day, didn’t he? THE RULES ARE THE RULES. You should always be striving to be better, so you’ll have a better chance of winning the next contest.
I wouldn’t be surprised if many of the participants weren’t channeling me last weekend. Oh well…if they’re concerned about something as frivolous as fun, that’s their problem.  I’m glad you made it to the second round and played in my honor. If you happened to have some fun unintentionally, there’s nothing to be done about that now.
On to other matters: You’ve got a nonfiction tarot book that needs my assistance. As I recall, you asked me to give you some time off to embrace your—I shudder to say it—“Neptunian side”, but it’s been too long now. This work isn’t going to edit itself. I look forward to our future collaboration in that area, and expect I will be hearing from you soon.
If I don’t answer right away, please accept my sincerest apologies; I’m trying to talk some sense into the United States Government before they do something colossally stupid with this whole sequester malarky. I agree about accepting the consequences of one’s actions, but even this goes too far for my conservative nature. Wish me luck; Neptune has been driving that bus for way too long anyway, and we’ve seen how reliable he can be.
Very truly yours,

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Venus vs. Mars: Celebrating the "Holiday"

Venus: Mars! So nice to see you! Come in and sit down!

Mars: [looking around] Your home is as gorgeous as ever, Venus. I don’t want to sit anyplace because I’m afraid of messing something up.

V: Not to worry!  [pulls out a beanbag chair] Here you go! I'd rather you not sit on the floral pillows again this year.

M: Thanks! [flops down] So here we go again, right?

V: Yes. Happy Valentine's Day! Another year of this glorious holiday that celebrates me!

M: Hallmark holiday, you mean.

V: Excuse me…what did you say?

M: You heard me, Venus. Every year we get together on “your” holiday. It’s just a day to cater to the whims of females whose male significant others don’t do anything romantic the rest of the year…and of course, to benefit florists, restaurants, jewelry stores, hotels, lingerie stores, credit card companies…

V: Oh, come now, Mars. That’s not really fair. Can’t we take one day a year to celebrate love between couples? And I think you’re giving preference to male-female couples. Same-sex relationships deserve the holiday as well. Love is love, and it’s perfect. Besides, what are people going to do? Dedicate a whole day to you?  

M: Sure! Since most of the names for my holiday would likely embarrass you, we can call it “National Copulation Day”. How does that sound?

V: It doesn’t really matter since it’s pure fantasy. I mean, the very idea of a holiday dedicated to you is…[chuckles].

M: Go on, Venus. It is…what?

V: Well, I’m not deliberately trying to offend, but the whole idea is sort of…silly.

M: [frowns angrily] I’m silly to you?

V: No, you aren’t at all, Mars. But the very notion of celebrating what you stand for? I just couldn’t see it.

M: Whatever you called it would be better than “I’d better buy some flowers and chocolates or I’ll never get my dong stroked again!” day. Hail to the vee, my ass!

V: [rolls eyes] Ugh. You’re as charming as ever, Mars.

M:  That’s the honest truth, Venus. And you know what else? Your “holiday” also celebrates me. Bet you didn’t know that.

V: I haven’t the faintest idea what you’re talking about.

M: Let me lay it out for you, mighty Aphrodite. Your “holiday” brings out feelings of anger and aggression in a lot of people. There are folks whose love lives are not going the way they want them to, and what do you do? You fill every commercial establishment with red, white, and pink bullshit that angry people have to stare at for six fucking weeks after New Years’. Do you know what month has the most divorces? January! Just before your beloved holiday. And what about people who have lost their special someone in the last year? They’re alone!  So there will be a hell of a lot of people by themselves, getting pissed off and likely sitting down for a few drinks, on your day! And they're riding with me.

V: I didn't even...think about them.

M: Didn't think you had. So what do you have to say to those people, huh?

V: Honestly, Mars, I don’t know.  I’d probably start with “I’m sorry."

M: Yeah, well...with your apologies these folks will still have to pay $5 for an overpriced cup of coffee.

V: I know. But riding your bitter train is going to somehow make them feel better?

M: For a while, yeah. People are resilient, but they need me to help them bounce back.

V: Perhaps you’re right.

M: Really?

V: No, of course not. I’m just saying it to be kind.

M: That sucks! But at least you’re being honest.

V: Indeed. Now come into the kitchen so we can eat lunch.  

M: What did you prepare for us this time? Canap├ęs? Finger sandwiches? Something delicate and light, no doubt. With a demiglaze of loooooooooooooooooooooooooooove?

V: Everything from my kitchen is prepared with love and tenderness. I’ve prepared a gorgeous fresh, green salad for myself. But I’ve made something extra special for you this year!

M: [groans] OK, let’s get this over with. What is it?

V:  60 of Jupiter’s famous suicide buffalo wings and bleu cheese dressing, and “Martial Margaritas” made with Neptune’s favorite tequila.  I’ve even added red food coloring in your honor.

M: You did all that…for me?

V: Yes. Because even with all your faults, I love you.  And this is a day for something special.

M: Suicide wings are my favorite! And when there’s a holiday dedicated to me, then maybe I’ll have you over to my place.

V: Your place? Ummm…while I loathe to decline such a tempting offer, I don’t wish to experience the “Man Cave”. Just thinking about it makes my skin crawl. And I don’t have a pair of shoes I'm willing to sacrifice, either.

M: MEEEEEEEEEYOW. That was a bitchy thing to say.

V: [smiles] You said you like honesty. 

M: Aw, fuck it. Let’s eat.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Deck Review: Mythic Tarot

Mythic Tarot

If the Tarot is “all Greek” to you, then you’ll love this deck, which is based on Greek mythology. It is a standard 78-card deck whose imagery is loosely based on that of the Rider-Waite.

I owned this deck once before and lost it somehow, probably in one of my many moves. I purchased it again and I’m very glad I did.

Actually, I originally bought this deck as a way to bone up on my Greek myths, very similar to what I did with the Arthurian Tarot. A basic knowledge of Greek mythology is helpful, but not required; the book that comes in this set does an excellent job of giving you the background and how it relates to the Tarot.

Each of the Major Arcana have one or more gods and goddesses on them. For example, the Emperor is Zeus, the ultimate male authority figure in Greek mythology, while the Lovers card features Paris having to judge a beauty contest between Hera, mother of the Gods; Athena, Goddess of Wisdom; and Aphrodite, Goddess of Love. Talk about a tough choice! Paris’ choice of Aphrodite ultimately starts the Trojan War when Aphrodite gives Paris his prize for picking her, the beautiful Helen of Troy.

Each set of pips of each suit of the Minor Arcana tells its own story. In the suit of Wands, for example, we see important events from the story of Jason as he goes on his quest for the Golden Fleece.

The Court Cards of each suit have famous Greek mythological figures to round out the deck. However, the names of the deities and figures does not appear on the cards themselves. I’m of two minds about that. It makes them a little more difficult to learn initially, but at the same time, the name does not draw the Reader’s attention away from the imagery either.

All of the cards are labeled with the name of the card in black print at the top. That way you don’t have to count how many of a particular suit are in the picture.

The backs are a dark blue with a rectangle border of a Greek urn pattern with a few magickal symbols.

There are so many excellent cards in this deck it would be hard for me to choose just one. I happen to like The Star card in this deck very much. The image is that of Pandora (of Pandora’s box fame). She kneels before the box after it has been opened to watch what comes out of it. She is nude and looks very innocent. It shows that inspiration can be a dangerous thing depending on what it inspires us to do.

If you like Greek mythology and are new to the Tarot, I’d recommend this as a starting Tarot deck as well.