13. Frosty 🥶 / ‘Birds’ (14)
-Frosty Lunch DAte
-Favors for your friends
-(intro)dinner-time horror show
Wiki: “… a Comedy performed 414 BC at the city Dionysia festival… Unlike the author’s other early plays, it includes no direct mention of the Peloponnesian War and there are few references to Athenian politics, and yet it was staged not long after the commencement of the Sicilian Expedition, an ambitious military campaign that greatly increased Athenian commitment to the war effort. In spite of that, the play has many indirect references to Athenian political and social life. It is the longest of Aristophanes’ surviving plays and yet it is a fairly conventional example of Old Comedy.”
“The plot of the play revolves around Pisthetaerus, an Athenian who convinces the birds to create a great city in the sky, and thus regain their status as the original gods. Pisthetaerus eventually transforms into a bird-like god himself, and replaces Zeus as the king of the gods.
The play begins with two middle-aged men stumbling across a hillside wilderness, guided by a pet crow and a pet jackdaw. One of them advises the audience that they are fed up with life in Athens, where people do nothing all day but argue over laws…
Just then, a very large and fearsome bird emerges from a camouflaged bower, demanding to know what they are up to and accusing them of being bird-catchers.
Moments later the Hoopoe himself appears—a not very convincing bird who attributes his lack of feathers to a severe case of moulting. He is happy to discuss their plight with them, and meanwhile one of them has a brilliant idea: the birds, he says, should stop flying about like idiots and instead should build themselves a great city in the sky, since this would both allow them to lord it over men and enable them to blockade the Olympian gods in the same way that the Athenians had recently starved the island of Melos into submission.
The Hoopoe likes the idea, and he agrees to help implement it, provided, of course, that the two Athenians can first convince all the other birds. He calls to his wife, the Nightingale, and bids her to begin her celestial music… The notes of an unseen flute swell through the theatre, and meanwhile the Hoopoe provides the lyrics, summoning the birds of the world from their different habitats—birds of the fields, mountain birds and birds of the trees, birds of the waterways, marshes and seas. These soon begin to appear, and each of them is identified by name on arrival. Four of them dance together while the rest form into a Chorus.
On discovering the presence of men, the newly arrived birds fly into a fit of alarm and outrage, for mankind has long been their enemy. A skirmish follows, during which the Athenians defend themselves with kitchen utensils that they find outside the Hoopoe’s bower, until the Hoopoe at last manages to persuade the Chorus to give his human guests a fair hearing. The cleverer of the two Athenians, the author of the brilliant idea, then delivers a formal speech, advising the birds that they were the original gods and urging them to regain their lost powers and privileges from the johnny-come-lately Olympians. The birds are completely won over and urge the Athenians to lead them in their war against the usurping gods.
The clever one then introduces himself as Pisthetaerus (Trustyfriend), and his companion is introduced as Euelpides (Goodhope). They retire to the Hoopoe’s bower to chew on a magical root that will transform them into birds. Meanwhile, the Nightingale emerges from her hiding place and reveals herself as an enchantingly feminine figure. She presides over the Chorus of birds while they address the audience…
Hear us, you who are no more than leaves always falling, you mortals benighted by nature,
You enfeebled and powerless creatures of earth always haunting a world of mere shadows,
Entities without wings, insubstantial as dreams, you ephemeral things, you human beings:
Turn your minds to our words, our etherial words, for the words of the birds last forever!
The Chorus delivers a brief account of the genealogy of the gods, claiming that the birds are children of Eros… thus establishing their claim to divinity ahead of the Olympians.
It cites some of the benefits the audience derives from birds (such as early warnings of a change in seasons), and it invites the audience to join them since birds easily manage to do things that mere men are afraid to do (such as beating up their fathers and committing adultery).
Pisthetaerus and Euelpides emerge from the Hoopoe’s bower laughing at each other’s unconvincing resemblance to a bird. After discussion, they name the city-in-the-sky Nephelokokkygia, or literally “cloud-cuckoo-land” … and then Pisthetaerus begins to take charge of things, ordering his friend to oversee the building of the city walls while he organizes and leads a religious service in honour of birds as the new gods. During this service, he is pestered by a variety of unwelcome visitors, including a young versifier out to hire himself to the new city as its official poet, an oracle-monger with prophecies for sale, a famous geometer, Meteon, offering a set of town-plans, an imperial inspector from Athens with an eye for a quick profit, and a statute-seller trying to peddle a set of laws originally written for a remote, barely-heard-of town called Olophyx. Pisthetaerus chases off all these intruders and then retires indoors to finish the religious service.
The birds of the Chorus step forward for another parabasis. They promulgate laws forbidding crimes against their kind (such as catching, caging, stuffing, or eating them), and they end by advising the festival judges to award them first place or risk getting defecated on.
… a messenger arrives with a report on the construction of the new walls: they are already finished thanks to the collaborative effort of numerous kinds of birds.
A second messenger then arrives with news that one of the Olympian gods has snuck through the defenses. A hunt is organized. The goddess Iris is detected and cornered, and soon she wafts down under guard. After being interrogated and insulted by Pisthetaerus, she is allowed to fly off to her father Zeus to complain about her treatment. Hardly has she gone when a third messenger arrives, declaring that men in their multitudes are now flocking to join the new city-in-the-sky.
Prometheus arrives next… sheltering under a parasol because he is an enemy of Zeus and he is trying not to be seen from the heavens… the Olympians are starving because men’s offerings no longer reach them; they are desperate for a peace treaty, but Pisthetaerus shouldn’t negotiate with them until Zeus surrenders both his sceptre and his girlfriend, Sovereignty,—
—she is the real power in Zeus’s household. His mission accomplished, Prometheus departs just moments before a delegation from Zeus arrives. There are only three delegates: the brother of Zeus, Poseidon, the oafish Heracles, and some even more oafish god worshipped by barbarians called Triballians. Pisthetaerus easily outwits Heracles, who in turn bullies the barbarian god into submission, and Poseidon is thus outvoted – the delegation accepts Pisthetaerus’s terms. He is proclaimed king by a heavenly herald, and he is presented with Zeus’s sceptre by Sovereignty, a vision of loveliness. The festive gathering departs amid the strains of the wedding march: Hymen O Hymenai’O! Hymen O Hymenai’O!
Cloudcuckooland has been understood by some scholars as a comic representation of an ideal polis and it has also been understood as a cautionary example of a polis gone wrong; according to yet another view, however, the play is nothing more than escapist entertainment.
The friendship between Pisthetaerus and Euelpides is realistically portrayed in spite of the unreality of their adventure. The keynote of their friendship is good-humoured teasing of each other for one another’s failings…and the proof of their friendship is the ease with which they work together in difficult situations, largely due to Euelpides’ willingness to concede the initiative and leadership to Pisthetaerus.
Or ‘Milos’ … a volcanic Greek island in the Aegean Sea, just north of the Sea of Crete.
The mining of obsidian did not lead to the development of permanent habitation or manufacturing on the island. Instead, those in search of obsidian arrived by boat, beaching it in a suitable cove and cutting pieces of the volcanic glass from the quarries… The position of Milos, between mainland Greece and Crete, and its possession of obsidian, made it an important centre of early Aegean civilization.
Milos lost its arms-making importance when bronze became the preferred material for the manufacture of weapons.
The first settlers were tuna fishermen. Lying on the north-east coast, 1896 excavations by the British School of Athens revealed a town wall and a Minoan-inspired structure, dubbed the Pillar room, which contained fragments of vivid wall paintings. The famous fresco of the flying fish was found in the ruins of the Pillar room and was executed with delicate colouring and graphic observation of nature in the graceful movement of a fish. Stylistic similarities to Minoan frescoes are suggested, and it could perhaps have been the work of a Cretan artist. Part of the site has been washed away by the sea.
The first Dorian settlement on Melos was established no earlier than the 1st millennium BC. Dorians are the ethnic group to which the Spartans belonged, but the Dorian settlers of Melos made themselves independent. They eventually established a city whose site lies on the eastern shore of the bay… From the 6th century BC up to the siege of 416 BC, Melos issued its own coinage… Melos was the only island in the Aegean Sea to use this standard. Most coins bore the image of an apple, which is a pun because the ancient Greek word for “apple” (mêlon) sounded similar to the name of the island… By the 6th century BC, the Melians had also learned to write, and they used an archaic variant of the Ancient Greek script that exhibited Cretan and Theraic influences. It was discarded after the siege of 416 BC… From at least as early as 470 BC and ending with the siege of 416 BC, the Melians exported terracotta reliefs, which were typically used as door or chest ornaments and depicted scenes from mythology…
In the summer of 416 BC, Athens invaded again with 3,400 men, and demanded that Melos ally with them against Sparta, or be destroyed. The Melians rejected this, so the Athenian army laid siege to the city and eventually captured it in the winter. After the city’s fall, the Athenians executed all the adult men, and sold the women and children into slavery. They then settled 500 of their own colonists on the island.
For The Birds.
Sir please don’t feed the birds.
Hmm. Oh, what?
I said please don’t feed the birds anymore.
It’s just a little bird, it’s not going to hurt any–
DON’T YOU KNOW WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU GIVE A MOUSE A COOKIE?!
“…a nut job.” … “Yes…they’ll ask for a–“
THAT’S RIGHT–THEY’LL ASK YOU FOR A GLASS OF MILK! Now, sir, will you please BACK AWAY FROM THE BIRDS!
The negotiation: “well, you’re going to have to let me in now. Are you really going to die over it?”
“Just let me in, you idiot!” … must allow car thieves… into car… in order to save life…
“I have to give you the Heimlick maneuver to save your life, now open up!” … I was almost at my car… and he came over to rob me!, but that goes without saying…
*gulp* “I’ll open up a bottle…”
“… I’m gonna open up a ginger-ale.”
<‘Favors for your Friends’>
“Someone once said, man, life is strange… and I said, yeah, compared to what?”
Frosty, distracted by the time-tracker on his HUD, nearly ran into a wall while heading toward the center hub of Adobe Tower. There were a few restaurants and shops, as well as a few strange things to visit. One attraction, on the Mesa floor, claimed to have recreated a dinosaur with breakthrough genetic engineering. Frosty rolled his eyes, commenting on how they’re “really just overgrown Geckos.” Ironically, this was still an amazing feat, as well mistaken for, perhaps, a reptile. It was a marvel of scientific accomplishment, waved aside like some old carnival trick; you’ve seen it a million times.
Entering the restaurant, Frosty adjusts the collar of his itchy sweater. He is sweating, a bit under the neck, and his hair has visibly dampened. He looks ordinary, but feels as though he is sticking out, somehow, in the entrance to the restaurant. It is a background discomfort that he can rationalize as groundless paranoia, but could still never completely rid himself of. The restaurant is dimly lit. There are well-dressed diners all around, and the place has an atmosphere of elegance. He has grown excited to see Andrianna. It has been so long since he met with her last. “Why had it been so long since she has tried to contact me?” He asked himself.
The hostess of the restaurant approaches him. She has kind eyes and Frosty’s underlying discomfort seems to have diminished some. She asks whether or not he would be dining alone, and remarking how he had hoped he would not, Frosty indicates that there should be seating for two. The hostess brings him to the table, which was, unfortunately, forcing Frosty into walking between tables (where people must must have been staring directly at him, me, and maybe recoiling from the sweat beading down my neck). He imagines the entire restaurant laughing under their breath about him:
“Who ordered the stuck pig?” Some of the diners recoil, in silent disgust.
Frosty realizes that this is lunacy, a fantasy, He reasons with himself that he is, in fact, by all means allowed to be here—he has the same right just as any—and this internal self-deprecation will eventually destroy him, if left unchecked. No one was as hard on him as he was on himself, and he seemed to know that. Why would the diners have this hateful and menacing image of him, having no knowledge of who he even was? Dissolving these underlying thought-patterns with a physical shake of the head, Frosty reminds himself about his respectable position in society. Approaching the table, the waiter started filling the empty glasses with water. This image helps him come to an easing of his nerves.
Frosty sees behind the waiter that Andrianna had entered the restaurant and was standing in the doorway. She was beaming. Women like Andrianna were always beaming. Frosty is pleased to see her, but a part of him resents her obvious glow. He didn’t at all feel this way, until just then, when he saw the reality of that glow. The vibrancy—and how it had not paled at all since last he had witnessed her. This, he knew, was some dark quality within him. It was a quality like possession, striking a man who feels guilt within himself by these talons of envy, and on certain occasions it is an egoic presence which is painfully difficult to mask. He also notices that this is lacking in certain others—typically ones just like Andrianna.
They are ‘better’ people, he reasoned, in more ways than one. Frosty didn’t even have 6-pace abs. Stronger, he thought to himself. This is yet another thing about himself that he hates—that her light brings about the shadow in him. He usually catches himself in this mode, of seeping negativity, and is able to correct it. He allows his joy at seeing her overflow his shallow self-pity, and the black moment passes. Frosty feels that he looks a little bit too much like a caveman, maybe like some sort of a Frankenstein Monster, rigidly, lobotomized outstretching, his primitive hook-hands greeting her. Shakily, pulling out her chair for her and smiling (at the Blonde-haired beauty) with a slack-jawed grimace, Frosty disgusts himself with his failed performance…
In truth, Andrianna hasn’t had a single thought other than gratitude to see Frosty, but the poor man had created this scenario, of utter defeat, right at the get-go. He did this often. Overtaken by this mental noise, which can shake him up quite a bit, Richard Frosty is the type of person prone to finding a use for stresses. He had read them in a book once, and sometimes remembered. This stress is the catalyst to his humor. He blinks into composure, diving in face-first in order to keep up appearances. A professional of misdirection, he has been trained to find composure. A pattern is restored, the geometric master spins a pattern-construct just for her, …
… that went like this: “Please, have a seat, Andrianna!”
That wasn’t awkward at all.
His excitement betrays him. He adjusts his exuberance…
“It’s so nice to see you again, Frosty. How are things?” She was as lovely as he had ever seen her.
Frosty ran over to pull out Andrianna’s chair—always the ‘extra-mile’ gentleman. He hoped that she thought this, as he did it. Frosty then hoped, with eagerness (equal to the hope that she was thinking him as an ‘extra-mile’ gentleman) that the sweat on his palms has not noticeably smeared on the back of her chair (so that when she pressed her back on the chair she would not feel a wet spot, and then he wondered if she…)
He catches himself.
He catches himself in the act—the mind streams on, surfacing incessant and off-putting messages. Andrianna smiles, showing her excitement at seeing him. Her excitement is contagious, and Frosty loses himself, in a moment that ‘she’ has manufactured. Betraying his initial contempt of her, perceiving she had purposely neglected him as of late, though, realistically, she of course had probably not been intentionally ignoring him, his happiness at their dinner date shines through. It is received by his guest as a display of quite a genuine happiness. He responds to her pleasantries (like a giddy little school girl), and at the sight of her smile, all discomforts are swept away. The anxieties of a Stratego had subsided as she laughs. Frosty fills in the silence—in this he is well practiced. Although his skills are rusty (and perhaps obsolete):
“I’m so glad you were able to make a little time for old friends. Here, please have a seat. What a strange saying, have a seat? I don’t suppose they’ll let you take it home with you after, would they? Just a joke—oh, don’t bother laughing at that one—out of courtesy—besides, if they were all winners I’d have to start charging! Only kidding…I mean, just imagine the size of the to-go bag though! Do people still say ‘doggy bag,’ I certainly do!”
Andrianna smiles courteously. She has missed his silly sense of humor, and has perhaps forgotten how refreshing it was. Her professional attitude seems to have diminished, some, while she maintains a few particular walls in her communication. She knows how Frosty can get—with a little too much friendliness.
“Frosty, it has been too long! I trust everything in the brains department goes well? I’m sorry though, it has been too long… How is the exciting life of a Stratego?” The flattery of her referring to him, and his station, as the ‘brain’s department’ is never wasted on Frosty.
The Stratego had once been much more involved with the handlings of the military, but now that the threat of any major war had come to a close there really weren’t many uses for them. Grandiose battle tactics had been instructed to past Tacticians. The Cases he now works are hardly public knowledge, but not so covert that they warrant the excitement this title usually suggests. The State-controlled media wanted the public to believe that terrorism had been defeated, and keeping up this image was high priority. Strategos learn how to work the shadows. They are like tailors to the black cloth of ignorance, banality, and deceit; blanketing the population with their communication mediums. They focus more internally now.
“Oh you know, nothing my ‘genius’ can’t handle.” One of Frosty’s eyes had gone cock-eyed. She laughs at his egregious delivery.
“So, you’re not a terrorist then? Haven’t switched teams, have you?”
“Oh, you know, only on the weekends, Luv.” The man had a certain talent and charm once settled in. Andrianna quickly began to remember how pleasant spending time with Frosty was, and she quickly drops her guise of professionalism all together.
“Besides, what’s a couple of ongoing WorldWars, anyways? Shall we order some expensive wine?”
The two laughed. It is a callous sort of humor, but humor was humor, and nobody should be apologizing for any of it. “Have any preference?” She holds up her menu.
“I like the kind that tastes juicy, but nothing in a box. I have standards.”
“You have standards now? It has been a long time.”
Frosty is definitely not like most of his contemporaries. She looks at his pudgy body—a comedic master swirling his dark red drink around, twirling that angelic liquid like an outright incarnation of Bacchus. Mocking seduction with his eyes, she looks again at his pudgy body. She is smiling—it is pantomime designed solely to get a laugh. He has this great knack for channeling these characters, of his own creation. She looks at his clown-like demeanor and thinks: he seems trivial, but this man is not to be trifled with.
“Juicy kind, huh? That’s just great, thank you for your valuable input.”
“I will say one thing– I’m definitely the ‘least’ cultured man here.” Frosty remarks with a lecturing tone.
Reminding herself that Frosty is, despite that silly demeanor, a man partly responsible for the deaths of many men. Trying to hold back a laugh (at the dark irony of it all) she also thinks it is vaguely important to stay careful, despite their lengthy friendship. To open up too much, too easily, with a man such as this… it could be considered a weakness. Strategos love to trip a story up, and although Frosty is different, it often seems they can’t help it. They are logic masters, and this sometimes will over-ride their ‘pleasant’ behavior. Using their calculating prowess, in order to play games, during a trial for instance, sometimes they can greatly sway an outcome. Frosty is hardly a typical specimen for his profession, however.
Frosty is a genuinely good guy, and that feeling (of wanting to laugh in a joyous, childlike manor) should be allowed to be let go. She deserves it. He deserves it. That infrequent guest—Joy, let loose, as she laughs: her first real laugh in months. She could stop playing ‘the game,’ for a brief moment—that exhausting game we all play. Sitting back, she comically swirls her own glass, putting on a face, in imitation, then, smelling into the glass, she makes a face as if the glass has a curious, and frightening odor. She looks as in disbelief, by the smell of the wine, and the two catch eyes, laughing again. Frosty is definitely impressed that she, besides her beauty, is deep-down still that child: fun, unbroken, despite it all. She has it all. Instead, Frosty thinks these traits of hers both settles and tortures him.
After initial excitements had died down, the room’s temperament shifted. The night is winding down, and they are still genuinely happy to see one other. They are still enjoying one another’s company. He drank some, she drank some… Andrianna started getting more somber with the catalyst of the drink. Trying to make the mood more serious, she brings up the stock World News, easing into it with the events of media coverage (at least the conventional topics to be touched on), she brings up some global issues, some military spending issues, and water-cooler conversation. It is the mood she is trying to change, and these topics are a ‘means to an end.’ Frosty has identified this immediately, and is helping her transition ease over, smoothly. He will hear-her-out, now, and deduce what she really had to say later on. She straightens up, after asking to be excused to the restroom. She then sat back down, her face darkly shadowed. She is looking much more serious now. He wanted her to get out whatever it was she called him to talk about tonight, and to stop dancing around it. He has no problem with a request for a favor, as was presumably the reason she had invited him here this evening.
“So, did you hear on the news about the kidnapping?”
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