Monday, November 22, 2010

There in the Sky! It's a Bird! It's a Plane! No, It's a Woman Sitting Upside Down in a Chair!

Now that I'm a dad of a little girl, I look at things differently than I did when I only had little boys.  For instance, if someone came up to me saying that they were better looking than my daughter, I would unleash some crazy monster that I happen to keep in my backyard to eat someone they love.  Those of you with little girls understand me.  I would like to take credit for such a great idea, but someone beat me to it.  This guy is like Father of the Year in my book.  Here's the story:

One day, a beautiful woman named Cassiopeia was sitting on her balcony playing one of her favorite games: I'm-More-Beautiful-Than-______.  I'm sure all you females out there play this game often.  Being a queen, she had a very high balcony and could see a lot of different people that she was more beautiful than.   It was a fun game, but as most of her subjects were rather ugly, she began to get bored of it.  That is until she looked a bit farther away and saw some beautiful Nereids.  These creatures were not mere mortals and were super beautiful.  Cassiopeia, however, using an objective judge (herself) determined herself the winner in this little beauty challenge and declared herself the world champion.

The Nereids did not like this at all.  They cried and posted stuff on their Facebook (which back then was called Facescroll) about how mean she was. Then they went to daddy and complained.  Daddy, being Poseidon, decided that no one makes his little girls cry and went straight over to Cassiopeia to set the matter straight.  He made them offer their daughter, Andromeda, up as a sacrifice to one of his sea monsters.  They did and watched as the monster came forward to devour their little sweetheart. 

Perseus just happened to be flying by on his way back from killing Medusa when he saw this beautiful, naked woman strapped to a rock about to be eaten by a monster.  He flew down to Cassiopeia and her husband Cepheus to ask if he could marry her (always the opportunist that Perseus).  Cepheus says yes, if he can beat the monster and save the girl.  As he just happens to have the head of Medusa in his back pack (I'm imagining this as a Dora the Explorer episode - "Can you see anything in my back pack that could defeat the monster?  Say, Medusa!   Louder!) he turns the monster into stone.  Strangely enough, Poseidon doesn't really care.

Cepheus and Cassiopeia, however, renege on their promise since they really want Andromeda to marry some dude named Phineus (which was her uncle - EWWW!).  Perseus turns everyone against him into stone, scoops up Andromeda and lives happily ever after.

Now, I lied a bit above (I am prone to do that from time to time).  I said that Poseidon didn't care about the loss of his sea monster.  That is not entirely true.  Poseidon does punish Cassiopeia after her death by turning her (and her husband) into constellations.  This is usually reserved as a reward; however, she was placed in a chair that spends half its time in the sky upside down.  Early drawings show her being strapped to a torture chair.  Later drawings show her holding a mirror. 

You can see her right now, if you live in the northern hemisphere.  Just look north and up.  If you don't know which way is north, pay attention to the sun as it sets.  Apollo always sets it in the west.  Then face that direction and turn right.  Viola!  North! 

What you are looking for is pretty easy to spot.  It is five stars in the shape of a W.  You can't miss it.  If you have a pair of binoculars or a telescope, looking in that direction is a pretty neat thing too.  This constellation is right in the middle of the Milky Way, so you will be bombarded with stars.

This should give you something to do if you are stuck with your in-laws over the holidays and just need to get out for a moment. 

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