Posted in Culture, fiction

The Rise of a Median King

Hello everyone, hope you are well! One of my favorite interests include Greek classical history and mythology.

I’m endlessly fascinated about the downfall of former empires and the Greek tragedies that touch upon universal themes and issues that impact humanity. To this day, classical mythology has influenced modern-day culture in a variety of arenas: sports, cardinal virtues, architecture, chemistry. Many series such as The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson is highly influenced by classical myth.

The fictional story below is an embellishment of historical and biblical events that took place in ancient Iran, Iraq, and Ukraine during 627 BCE to 560 BCE. I loosely followed the accounts of Herodotus, a Greek historian, in his book, “The Histories”, Josephus’ in “Against Apion”, the Bible, and Qu’ran. There are some inconsistencies regarding the parentage of Amytis across historical accounts, but that leaves room for my imagination to weave in some magic. 🙂

A Bold Maneuver

He noted the situation had become grim...

Young Cyaxares, son of the late king of Media, Phraotes, received news that his father was dead. He was slain in battle by members of the Assyrian army led by Ashurbanipal, the zealous and brutal king of Assyria.

Relief of Ashurbanipal hunting on horseback. Nineveh, Assyria, 645–635 BC.
Image Credit: British Museum

The Assyrian empire was powerful and dominated the lands. They reached the ultimate heights of technological, scientific and cultural achievements of the time. Ashurbanipal, in all his might and military expertise, reasserted dominion over the Medes, Persians, and Parthians. His glorious palace along the Tigris River served as a reminder of his status in the world.

The Monuments of Nineveh by Sir Austen Henry Layard, 1853
Image Credit: National Geographic

Nomadic Scythian warriors got wind of the news and swiftly raided Cyaxares’ homeland. For nearly three decades, Scythian officials controlled the region and exacted tribute from the Median citizens. Cyaxares resented their presence and began to formulate a strategic plan to avenge his father.

One evening, Cyaxares invited the Scythian chieftains to a fine banquet where they enjoyed a fine feast and alcohol. The aroma of marijuana filled the air. Cyaxares murdered them while they were drunk and their guards were lowered. He later proclaimed that he was king of Medes. The Scythians soon recognized their leaders were killed and subsequently retreated to the steppes.

Taking Down the Big Kahuna

Cyaxares united various tribal forces afterward and gradually conquered and occupied several Assyrian territories. He prepared to go to war against the Assyrian empire, but he was going to need help. He formed a few alliance and friendship treaties. One of his allies was Nabopolassar, Chaldean king of Babylonia, who decided to join Cyaxares’ effort to confront the Assyrians and their Egyptian allies.

The eventual death of Ashurbanipal led to Assyria’s weakened political infrastructure. The Medians and the Babylonians took advantage of Assyria’s internal strife and besieged the capital of Assryia, Nineveh, one of the greatest cities in the world.

Battle of Nineveh
Image Credit: Alchetron

Raising a Family

Cyaxares married and soon gave birth to a son named Astyages and a daughter named Amytis. To forge and formalize the alliance between the Babylonian and the Median dynasties, Cyaxares gave his daughter’s, Amytis, hand in marriage to Nabopolassar’s son, Nebuchadrezzar II.

Image Credit: Louvre Museum

She packed a few belongings and moved to Babylon with Nebuchadrezzar II. When she arrived, she was dismayed at the dry and flat landscape. She missed the mountains and lush scenery of Media. Cognizant of Amytis’ homesickness, he decided to replicate a piece of her homeland by creating: The Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

 Maarten van Heemskerck (1498-1574)

Amytis was surprised that her new husband would go to such lengths to make her happy. She recognized certain trees and plants that she enjoyed in her homeland and was touched by his commiseration. Not only was she pleased, the community shared their plaudits. She knew that he was capable of bringing Babylon back to its full glory.

Image Credit: Wallpaper Safari

Her husband fortified the city’s defenses and rebuilt many temples. Little did she know, however, that he would go mad towards his final days. All of his past achievements and success contributed to an increasingly high ego.

Nebuchadrezzar II
Image Credit: jubran.deviantart.com

When three young Hebrew men didn’t bow down to him one fateful day, he tried to burn them in a fiery furnace to no avail. Daniel, a revealer of future mysteries, was held in captivity with them. He interpreted the king’s dreams and predicted that world powers shall rise and fall. Feeling a bit insecure, Nebuchadnezzar threw Daniel into a pit of lions. Imagine his surprise when the lions didn’t eat Daniel… 🙂

Posted in fiction

#FFFC – A Singular Flight of Fancy

Kieu just got back from a long day at work, and she was exhausted.

She draped some fabric she bought on the stand and tossed the chiffon on the sofa as she walked into the room.

Kieu shed her work clothes. She lifted her face shield and took off her mask. She felt a tad bit lighter. There was a sort of freedom she experienced while being in the nude. Her girlfriend was still out running errands. She cracked the window open and welcomed the summer breeze into the stuffy room.

The AC hasn’t been working for the past couple of months. She hasn’t gotten around to fixing it. During the pandemic, she was afraid to call a professional to stop by and replace it. She decided to cut this one expense this season. She figured her and her girlfriend will survive. They’ve been through worse. Bills were piling up, and life has been so busy, anyway.

The sofa looked appealing and was inviting her to rest. Kieu wrapped herself in the chiffon fabric as she sat down. She closed her eyes and rested her face between her legs. She curled into a cat yoga pose, and stretched all the tense muscles in her back. Taking a deep inhale, she held the pose for a satisfying long minute before exhaling and releasing anxious thoughts.

Time for her daily mind dump!

Earlier this afternoon, she noticed a window display at a boutique while walking back to her home. Kieu gazed at a stunning white chiffon dress on a mannequin. The price tag could not keep her eyes away from the lovely design. She marveled at the layers of cascading ruffles. Light and airy, it was a heavenly dream dress.

She wanted it, but her budget begged for another solution. “Fine, Budget, I see how it is! But…..where there is a will, there is a way!” The image of the dress was engraved in her mind. She stopped by the fabric shop and bought several yards of fabric.

Kieu opened her eyes.

This must not remain a pipe dream.

Posted in fiction, poetry, Quotes

A Fourth to Remember

Photo by Camylla Battani on Unsplash

Joy!
Wa-hoo!
Today’s the day!
Buzzing with excitement
We’re celebrating indoors today!
My owner created a scavenger hunt for me
She hid some delectable treats throughout the house
Pop a tunnel of floating bubbles along the way
Canine peanut butter, vanilla cookie treats
Await me at the end of the obstacle
An excursion to the back patio
Fetching a squeaky ball
My owner loves me
No fireworks
Tender
Care

Word of the Day: Excitement

Posted in Concepts, fiction, Nature, Photography

#A2Z – Director’s Dilemma of Dogme 95 (fiction)

“CUT!!!” Director Cavanaugh acerbic voice sliced through the air.

Buzzing with energy from the two cups of coffee he drank, he chewed on his pen cap as he witnessed an interesting snapshot on his screen. It was linked to an underwater videographer’s feed. A fish inside a jellyfish! Could he turn this bizarre moment into a symbolic story left to the audience’s interpretation and imagination? The fish’s expression says it all. The gears were turning in Cavanaugh’s head

Try as the little fish might to direct its own path, the jellyfish will inevitability drag the fish wherever it pleases. Realizing its loss of autonomy, the fish’s eyes bug out in horror!

Image Credit: Tim Samuel

Cavanaugh wondered if he was insane for trying out an ambitious experiment after a period of hitting the doldrums. He was inspired by some prize-winning photos in a BBC article that he was browsing.

Image Credit: Anita Kainrath, from Austria, won Up & Coming Underwater Photographer of the Year with Shark Nursery, showing baby lemon sharks in a mangrove in the Bahamas.

He wondered if he can authentically capture a live stream story letting the animals share their own stories. He was fascinated by their behavior. He couldn’t direct the animals, but then it wouldn’t really matter since his name wouldn’t be credited. During his time in film school, he was intrigued by a film movement founded in 1995 by Danish director Lars Von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg. They wrote a manifesto called Dogme 95. The “rules” were as follows:

The question is… can he stick to the rules?

Posted in Culture, fiction, Quotes

#A2Z- The Ciselure Shop (fiction)

The chimes on the door clanged. A portly gentleman dressed in an olive-green tweed suit just entered Vpyshit’sya, a small shop nestled within a mountain village of Dzembronya, Ukraine. Novak took a burgundy handkerchief from out of his breast pocket, and wiped the dust off his gold rimmed glasses. He breathed a sigh of relief that he arrived in one piece as the foggy weather made safety of the travelling conditions questionable.

After taking a quick glance inside, he decided to walk around the shop quietly studying the craftsmanship of the metal pieces that were on display. He displayed a keen perspicacity in recognizing quality pieces. He heard about this shop as he chatted to the barman last night. Ukraine was well known for a variety of metal and wood carvings.

He was immediately enthused by the diversity of products he found: unique jewelry that was encased by glass display boxes, brass Viking shields that hung on the walls, intricately engraved kitchen knife sets, engraved metal wall decor.

He slowly found his way to the check out desk in the back of the shop. He noticed a young lady diligently working in the back room. Sophia’s family has been in the ciselure business for five generations. Her family taught her everything they knew, and precocious Sophia became a young master in the craft. She was inspired by a few techniques from a video she watched.

She was finishing up an jewelry box for an exhibit held at the Metal Working International Trade Fair in Kiev, the capital. She was looking forward to learning new things in metallurgy and the innovative tools in metal industry.

Novak cleared his throat, “Excuse me, mam. I was told that you can create metal designs for a wide variety of things.” Sophia broke from her trance, got up from her workstation, and walked towards the man. He took out a wooden box from his bag, and set it on the table.

“Careful now, there’s a golden pocket knife I would like to engrave for my son. It’s his birthday and there is something I would like to inscribe.” He took out a note for Sophia to read:

My son, take time to sharpen your skills, your tools, your resources, and you’ll be more productive. Much love, Novak

Image Credit: Pixabay

In response to:

Posted in Culture, poetry, Quotes

#Haiku-Feline Above | A-Z 2020 – Theme Reveal!

Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back.

Eugene O’Neil
Image by Pixaline from Pixabay

Uneasy kitten
Chatoyant green gems staring
Mystified by feats

Hey there, Kitty! Not to worry! You will get to live another day!

It’s that time of year again! A to Z April Blogging Challenge is a fun challenge where bloggers participate in topics of their choosing corresponding to letters in the alphabet.

And my theme for 2020?

I discovered a lot of topics that I’ve never heard of before and wanted to share them in story and poetry form! Random categories include:

Architecture | Animals | Manifestos | Festivals | Music | Gifts

My curious mind will transport us in a variety of places. I’ll be a fun travel buddy. Look forward to you joining my journey!

Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay
Posted in Concepts, Quotes

Blogging Insights #20 – Long form VS Short form Content

Hello everyone! Hope you are doing well! I’m officially free from the wrath of the flu! My goodness, I can just breathe a sigh of relief. 🙂 Today I want to explore this question:

Have you ever wondered the differences of impact between short-form content and long-form content for blog posts?

Today’s post will be centered on Dr.Tanya’s questions regarding blog length featured under #blogging insights on her blog, Salted Caramel.

  1. Do you prefer writing long form or short form content?
  2. How long, in your opinion, is the ideal blog post?
  3. What do you prefer reading, shorter or longer posts?
  4. What are the topics on which you would like to read longer posts (say, more than 1000 words)?

For the past eight weeks, I’ve been working on a class in which my professor wanted us to engage our audience via WordPress or LinkedIn platforms. Setting this intention and accomplishing assigned objectives required me to do some research.

I found an intriguing article called: 10 LinkedIn Publishing Tips: We Analyzed 3000 LinkedIn Blog Posts

It explored what sort of content works best on the LinkedIn platform, and various data correlation and comparison for successful LinkedIn posts. I began to wonder if there is similar analytics done for WordPress blogs.

Here are my responses to Tanya’s thought-provoking questions:

Do you prefer writing long form or short form content?

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I really enjoy writing short form content when I want to relax from a busy, chaotic day. Typically the content I write is fun, light-hearted, and contains beautiful poetry, photo short story. This is primarily what my audience on my blog sees. It’s easier for me to generate posts prolifically when inspiration strikes spontaneously giving me more freedom to explore.

The downside to short-form content, in my opinion, is that it’s ideal for producing timely updates relevant for a short period of time which requires consistent production of posts. Otherwise, your stats and traffic begins to drop. Long-form content, on the other hand, has some lasting quality to it. While readers may not sit back and read all of it in one go, they will come back for more if they’re truly interested.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

I write long form content for school or work when the content requires more time to plan and analytical thought. I enjoy writing long research papers when the subject matter is something I’m passionate about. I tend to dive really deep into the subject matter, and I lose track of time.

I’m competent in writing quality business reports, white papers, and proposals that require technical research. It’s a different sort of “like”. I feel more like a detective investigating a solution and feel a sort of thrill reaching a conclusion.

Writing long-form content develops your blog’s branding and credibility which can deepen a blogger’s relationship to their readers. Many people also reblog and reshare long-form content more often than short-form content.

How long, in your opinion, is the ideal blog post?

I feel that the ideal length varies from blogger to blogger and depends on the subject matter and purpose. Bloggers may ask themselves many questions such as:

  • Why do you blog? To improve your skills? To inspire? To meet people?
  • What are your goals? Do you want more followers? More posts?
  • Are you aligning the length of your posts with reader’s intention?

My ideal blog post tends to be 200 words or less because it works with my schedule and it’s primarily for my enjoyment that I want to share with others. It’s difficult for me to write anything longer consistently due to time constraints. Every now and then, I’ll save a long post in my draft box and work on it until completion, but those are few and far between.

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

If your intention is to create viral headlines and create content that generates a lot of traffic and followers, there seems to be several articles like the Linkedin article I mentioned above where data analytics tells a story of what makes for an ideal blog post.

Blogging boot camps also give recommendations for creating and monetizing blog posts that generate large sums of profit which depending on the blogger’s values and perspectives can be very ideal.

What do you prefer reading, shorter or longer posts?

On WordPress, I prefer reading shorter posts related to fiction only because there are so many talented writers I like to read throughout my busy day. It’s easier to read shorter posts on my phone and it’s also easier to scan for information I like. If bloggers like to write extended stories, I prefer it to be broken up in separate blog posts. If I’m still interested, I can buy their book if the blogger has published one.

Image by Prawny from Pixabay

What are the topics on which you would like to read longer posts (say, more than 1000 words)?

Despite my preferences mentioned above however, I don’t discount the effectiveness of long-form content. I really enjoy reading long articles in The Atlantic or The New Yorker when a writer demonstrates their authority and expertise writing about something that intrigues me such as trending updates in health/wellness, nutrition, improving home space, environment, history, business, technology, or anthropology.

Image by skeeze from Pixabay

Long-form content provides a platform to highlight important stories that define our time and generation. It may provide in-depth knowledge that you may need to succeed in your endeavors whether it’s starting your business, working through the pain-staking issues surrounding divorce, or a how-to article on fixing the intricacies of your car.

Image by Ryan McGuire from Pixabay

Long-form content gets higher search rankings and outperforms short-form content in this regard. The longer readers spend time reading a blog post, the more readers can develop trust with the blogger. Readers have invested time reading more of what the blogger has produced, and therefore more likely to interact with the blogger. Bloggers give direction to their posts and target a specific audience.

Quotes

Whether my preference is either short-form or long-form, there are benefits and limitations to both. With that in mind, I think I’ll focus on delivering the best valuable content I can. Curious about the topic of content in general, I’ve collected some food for thought below regarding content.

Thanks for reading! I’ll see you soon 🙂

Posted in Events, exercise, flashback

#SoCS- Figure Skating

Linda’s #SoCS prompt – Figure
Badge Photo Credit – Shelley

Figure skating has been a joy for me to watch over the years. Seeing these athletes gracefully landing loops and pirouettes to the rhythm of their chosen music is lovely.

Image Credit: Pixabay

I love their elegance, choice in outfits, reflecting what they want to express to their audience. Balancing on ice while keeping the rest in mind!

I figure that’s what inspired me to skate. Mom bought me my first set of rollerblades from the Toys R’ Us for my birthday. Cute set too – Magenta buckles/wheels and white boots! My neighborhood friends and I would create little routines.

The fun one to practice was what we called the Figure 8. We used the indented cracks in the driveway to guide our paths. Dramatically, we held each other as we intersected paths on the infinity.

There were friendships in that neighborhood that I wanted to last for infinity. People grow and change, go off in their own directions though.

Image Credit: Pixabay

Little ducklings growing into beautiful swans. I’m reminded of a glass figurine of a swan my aunt gave me. I turn the dial and it plays a tune. Spinning around. Not knowing what direction it will face once the melody fades away.

Will the swans be united again after swimming in such different directions for so long? ⛸

Image Credit: Pixabay

Whoosh! Feeling a blast of cold air as I’m ice skating wakes me up and makes me feel alive while skating with friends. Then comes the inevitable….

*CRASH* Ahh!

My skate gets caught in someone else’s deep indentation in the ice, and I flip over and slide, stomach-flat, across the arena at an incredible speed. I’m disoriented, and everything looks like a blinding set of stars.

Yes, sometimes the cracks in life can make you more than stumble. All I can do is get up, and try again once I get my bearings straight! 😀

Word of the Day Challenge: everything

Posted in Dreams, fiction, poetry, Quotes

Tell the Story – Marceline’s Stage Fright

Inescapable
Nowhere to turn but the now
Moon is spotlighting

After meeting with lobbyists from various advocacy groups all day, Princess Marceline attempted to sleep. Despite residing in the comfort of her castle, she was entangled in her sheets and unable to rest in her bed as she tossed and turned. In her dream, she was supposed to pitch several ideas and initiatives to help her country recover from the damage caused by war by presenting a speech in front of the people she served. Wearing a brilliant blue gown designed by fashion designer, Pierre, she marveled at the beauty of the intricate lacy French brocade near her wrists.

She pulled the curtains aside and stepped forward out to the balcony. As her subjects’ eyes attentively stared back at her, Marceline’s typical poise was disturbed by her inability to speak. She suddenly remembered something that a dear friend once shared with her which elevated her spirit.

Surfing in crowds is like mind over matter. If I don’t mind it don’t matter.”

Brodus Rogers

Her trembling was imperceptible from such a far distance, but she refused to be daunted by the anxiety of her temporary muteness. She drew in strength from her loyal, dedicated audience and smiled. She turned to her interpreter on the right and began performing sign language. The interpreter read her hands and began speaking into the mike and out to the crowd before her, “Thank you for coming out today. Contrary to a popular critic’s prediction that the crowd will not come out due to the cold and rain, it seems like today is quite the exception!” Marceline slowly felt the anxiety melt away as the crowd cheered in unison.

Lucid dreams present
A chance to change the outcome
Dignity and charm

Inspired by the prompts below:

Posted in fiction, flashback, Food/Recipes, Photography, poetry, Quotes

#OctPoWriMo2 – Morphing into a Gourmand

A mother was once frustrated!
Still unsalted
Picky eater
Desired sweeter

Are you a little changeling?
Fairy humming?
Not wanting food?
I can just brood!

Surprised to see a growing girl
Giving a twirl
Eating a lot
A food for thought

Nuggets of Gold: Tuesday’s Thoughts

Good evening! I experimented with minute poetry today as I was pondering on this quote above while eating some French onion soup with seasoned toast tonight in a charming restaurant downtown. Like the fairy girl in this story, I was once a picky eater, but now I sometimes can be a gourmand. I need to slow down when I eat. A work in progress! 😉 Would love to show you what I’ve been eating for the past few months down below!

Boyfriend’s homemade goulash
Schlotzsky’s Deli’s incredible sandwich
La Perla’s Blue Hawaiian
Pops Pops Honeydew boba tea
My own squash and sausage soup
My friend’s impressive opera cake
Tech conference food
WP Engine’s complimentary meal