Sunday, May 18, 2014

Tricksters on the loose!

I have been taking notes of all the various trickster characters that have popped up in the media lately. I thought it is time to share some of the fresh catch, and the most delicious bites. So, here is the Trickster in some of his new/old faces:

1. Loki
All right, so everyone knows Marvel's Loki these days. I don't even need to introduce him. I'll just note that it entertains me to no end to observe the unbroken popularity the Norse god of mischief manages to maintain through the ages and even today. You know Trickster is on the right track when he has a bigger fandom than all the Avengers together.
Marvel's Loki is an interesting new take on the old stories. I have mused about this at length on my other blog, in the post titled My Loki is not your Loki, and that's OK.

2. Floki
Clearly a play on Loki as a character, Floki does a spectacular job of being the resident Trickster of History Channel's Vikings. Portrayed by the amazing Gustaf Skarsgard (the more talented one of the Skarsgard collection), Floki carries a huge portion of the show's weight and most of the love of the fans. All his mannerisms and his actions are consistent of the archetype of the Trickster, right down to him being extremely hard to kill.

3. Lorne Malvo
Since I am focusing on recent Trickster appearances, this time I mean Fargo the TV show, not the original movie. The character of Lorne Malvo is played by Billy Bob Thorton, who once again does an excellent job (notice how tricksters only get played by good actors? You can't skimp on a character of that magnitude). The character is the True Neutral version of the Trickster, in its purest form: Does things for the sake of chaos, for entertainment, and because "there are no rules." Versatile, volatile, and genius in planning, the Malvo character is a treat to watch, and not very far from true Tricksters all around the world.

4. Gabriel
He appeared first a couple of years ago, but recently made a return on CW's Supernatural. Outright known as "the Trickster" throughout the show, this character was responsible for some of the best episodes of the drama. While he turns out to be an archangel (what? Did I not say spoilers?), he is a true Trickster at heart - not only wickedly smart, but also always hungry, incredibly shift, self-centered, and impossible to kill. One of the highlights in the show's writing, if you ask any storyteller.

So, it looks like Tricksters are living one of their many Renaissances these days. Let's hope it brings more of them out of the woordwork.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Big Bang Theory, 7x20 - This too shall pass

Whoa, Big Bang is just all over the storytellers' repertoire lately. Is storytelling becoming nerdy or what?...
In this episode Sheldon breaks up with string theory, and consequently becomes depressed. He consoles himself with a story about a ring that says "this too shall pass."

The original story of the ring comes from the Middle East; it is often recorded in Jewish folklore. In the Jewish version, King Solomon sends out people to find him a magic ring that can make the happiest man humble, and can console the saddest person on Earth. The messengers search high and low without finding such magic, until one of them comes across a beggar on the way home. The beggar asks for his own ring, promising to give a magic one in return. When the messenger hands him the ring, the beggar carves "This, too, shall pass" into the ring and hands it back. King Solomon takes one look at the ring, and in his wisdom understands that it is exactly what he was looking for.

Let's hope the beggar got rewarded.

Read more about the story here.

Big Bang Theory 7x19 - Lovers in the sky

Okay, so this was as easy to spot as a fish in a barrel, but Big Bang used a story that I am actually fond of, so it goes on the blog anyway. It has magpies in it!

The story of Altair and Vega is an old Chinese legend. The festival celebrating it happens of the seventh day of the seventh month of the Chinese calendar. The story associated with is is known as The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl.

Weaver Girl (Vega) was a heavenly maiden, and the Cowherd was a mortal man. One day he saw a flock of birds descend from the heavens and turn into beautiful women. While they took a bath in a pond, the cowherd stole the dress of the youngest and most beautiful one; once all the others returned to Heaven, he revealed himself and asked her to stay with him. She did, they fell in love, married, and had children.
However, the gods in heaven could not go long without getting new clothes, and the work of the Weaver Girl was sorely missed. They ordered her to return, and she was in no position to refuse. She left her husband and her two small children, and went back to the sky. The cowherd was desperate. One day, his ox suddenly spoke, and told him that if he killed him, he could fly up to the heavens on his hide. The cowherd killed the ox, and took his tow children up to the sky with him. The gods, however, did not want them distracting the maiden. They drew a barrier between them in the form of the Milky Way.
The only creatures who felt sorry for the lovers were the birds. Because of that, every year on the seventh day of the seventh month, the magpies fly up and touch their wings together, creating a bridge that arches over the Milky Way, allowing the Weaver Girl and the Cowherd to spend the night together.

Not the worst story to use as a pickup line. Raj would know.