Wednesday, December 28, 2011


If you're wondering if the title is a word, no it isn't. Hepa or hepar is the Greek word for liver and a myth is a myth. It's simply the best I could come up with to describe a story from mythology. Every now and then, I encounter certain truths that simply astound me. A sort of real life Twilight Zone moment that cannot be explained logically but that just is. It's my very knowledgeable husband that would make me aware of this interesting yet crazy trivia.

A poet from the 8th century BC named Hesiod, wrote a very long and intricate poem  called Theogony about powerful deities. As far as we know, these deities or Titans had never been mentioned before then. In Theogony, the first generation of Titans consists of six males and six females. I'm not going to go into all the names because it gets too complicated. Suffice it to say that cousins married cousins. Lapetus, a Titan, was married to Clymene (a daughter of a Titan). They had several children, one of which was Prometheus. Two other Titans, Cronus and Rhea also had children, the youngest of which was Zeus.

I'd heard the name Prometheus mentioned many times but only vaguely knew who he was. It turns out, he was smart and a real prankster. He was also the god closest to mankind. But before I get to that, let me explain what went down. Talk about family feud, this was the ultimate example. The Titans were powerful deities, but apparently not powerful enough since they were defeated and overthrown by their own children, the Olympians. Out with the Titans, in with the Olympians. They now had all the power, especially Zeus (you know, the one holding the lightening bolt). He sat on his throne in Mount Olympus and ruled over the other gods and men. If he was the most powerful, just like some presidents of ours, he certainly wasn't the smartest. Zeus, the mightiest of the mighty was about to be tricked.

There was a matter of settling accounts between men and gods. Zeus had to decide what the sacrificial meal to the gods would be. Prometheus, the witty but lowly Olympian, wanted to help mankind. After all, we were his best creation. Per Zeus' order, he had fashioned us out of water and clay and loved us much more than Zeus did. Prometheus presented Zeus with two options of sacrificial meals. Whatever Zeus chose would be for the gods, the other for humans. The first meal looked badly but was actually tasty meat once you pealed away the unappetizing exterior. The other looked delicious but inside was only bones. Zeus went straight for the looks. You would think Supergod would know better than to judge a book by its cover...I'm starting to think he came from Hollywood...

Since Zeus chose bones as the sacrificial meal, this meant humans could keep the meat for themselves and honor the gods with...bones. Like a mortal who won't own up to his stupid mistake, Zeus was furious and took it out on Prometheus' beloved humans. The god of gods took fire away from us. We couldn't even cook our food anymore. Prometheus wasn't going to stand for this. He snuck fire from Zeus' lightening bolt, hid it in a stalk and brought it to man. That really infuriated Zeus and, since he was the god of gods, he punished Prometheus. He had him tied to a rock in the Caucasus mountains and every day a vulture ate his liver. The organ would grow back during the night, and the next day the vulture would eat it again.

This absolutely fascinates me. Why did the writer, Hesiod, choose the liver to be eaten and re-grown? How can a story, written by man 700 years BC, full of fantastic characters and events about Titans, Olympians and humans created from clay, get this particular fact right? The vulture ate Prometheus' liver during the day, and it grew back at night. Of course the liver doesn't grow back in a night, but it is the ONLY organ to grow back at all. If cut in half, within several months, it will reach its normal size again. The author could have chosen any organ in our body, especially since he's talking about gods. Why then, did he choose the liver and not the stomach, the heart, the lungs and so on? Back then there was no accurate knowledge of our inner workings. Or was there? And if so, what did we miss in our archeological findings? The point is, somehow, an innate intuition or a seventh sense, or perhaps real knowledge by the ancients we aren't aware of, prompted the author to choose the correct organ, the one that grows back.

By now, you all know that livers are my life long thread. It seems that the fascination with this organ goes back to the beginnings of civilization. I find that amazing. This is my Twilight Zone moment, my head scratching, wide-eyed, mouth agape bewilderment with this... hepamyth.  

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


I turned on the television to watch international news on KCET. Brian Williams from NBC is fine and well, but if I really want to know what’s going on in the world I watch BBC World, Al Jazeera (London), IBA (Isreal) and NHK (Japan).  Holding the remote control ready to turn channels, I happened upon THE STEVE WILKOS SHOW (KTLA 5).

Steve Wilkos is a former, marine, former police officer and former sidekick on the Jerry Springer Show. He now has his own “the apple doesn’t fall far from the Jerry Springer tree” show dealing with child abuse. No doubt, there are plenty of strange shows on TV, but I have mixed emotions about exploiting child abuse.

Parent(s) and abuser come on the show once they agree and submit to a lie detector test. A young mother of an eleven-month-old baby suspected her girlfriend, who lives in the young mother’s house and babysits while she attends school, of beating her baby.

On one hand, if an infant is rescued from an abuser thanks to Steve Wilkos exposing him/her, I applaud this. Toddlers cannot speak up for themselves, and the non-abusing grownup is often at a loss. Steve Wilkos’ show fills a troubling gap between letting the abuse continue and stemming it. And it needs to be stemmed by all means, even if it is within an hour’s show. Hopefully, through his show, both the victim and the perpetrator learn something. Maybe the perpetrator’s eyes have been opened to his/her problem. As far as the victim is concerned, the show commits to helping. What that exactly entails, I don’t know.

On the other hand, it is simply perverted to turn a most serious topic such as child abuse into entertainment. The existence of Steve Wilkos’ show is based on children suffering. Without that fact, he has no show. Child abuse has been turned into a frivolous, superficial sideshow. Two or more people stand on a stage acting out some retaliation scene edged on by a heated, howling and ranting audience. In this frenzy of low-life behavior one easily forgets that it is a child’s life at stake. The outcome is obvious. The perpetrator gets booed of the stage and repudiated by the host; a solution that does nothing but demean the abuser who then probably only feels like finding someone else to abuse.

There are some innate dangers to the show. Lie detectors aren’t 100% fool proof. And how likely is it that some idiot abuses a child just to get his/her fifteen minutes of fame? The players in this real-life game seemed eager to confront each other, perhaps even more so knowing that a camera was in their face. Whether victim or perpetrator, they’ve been lifted out of anonymity and given a platform to vent. And let’s not forget the viewer, without whom this show wouldn’t exist. I’m inclined to think that the people, who enjoy watching the Steve Wilkos show from the comfort of their living room, must have big issues of their own. I know I felt very uncomfortable as I sat there with the remote control in my hand, still ready to change the channel.

I understand that television these days spans the spectrum of viewership. I get that we need a little something for everyone. But with shows like Steve Wilkos’ we have hit a new all time low. And he isn’t the only one. The show TO CATCH A PREDATOR is just as bad except that it has a thicker veneer polish on it. Chris Hanson might be wearing a suit and speak in a more concerned manner, but just like Steve Wilkos, he too takes a serious subject matter and turns into entertainment.

These shows, and in fact most ‘reality shows,’ are meant to make the viewer feel better about himself by pointing the finger at others. In this day and age, when the state of the economy and thus of our lives has nothing positive to offer, we are happy to find distraction by prying into the lives of others.

At the end of the show, the young mother who suspected her girlfriend got the proof she needed. Besides the screaming and the fighting, I believed the young mother when she told her girlfriend never to come close to her house anymore. I could see it in her eyes, her mother instincts wanted to protect her baby; she was devastated that her closest friend and someone she trusted had hurt her child. The young mother threatened to sue her friend. Steve Wilkos then said he would help her with ‘counseling’, I heard nothing about helping her with the suit. My point is, it’s easy to let Pandora out of the box and, in so doing, create shock and awe for viewers. But after you’ve done that, Steve and Chris, what happens then?

Friday, December 16, 2011




My book is available for purchase on my site as well. Great last minute gift.