The Old-Timer's League.

Writers, gamers, and social scientists alike share a soft spot for mythology, and I'm no exception. Tales of gods and heroes, shaping the world and the heavens, explaining the deepest mysteries, enthralling the young and reassuring the elderly, binding an entire culture together with shared experiences. What's not to love?

Some of them, though, suffer terribly for their lack of an editor-in-chief. Often, you can get away with looking at things episodically. No matter the problem, Jo and Blair will resolve their differences, and get back in Mrs. Garrett's good graces within thirty minutes. Same thing with the Fox's tricks and the Spider's games. The only distinct part of the timeline is the creation myth, and that's obviously the pilot episode.

In contrast, The Old Testament has a watertight continuity. Say what you will about Bishop Usher, it's a tribute to his reference material that he was able to get any date at all. (The fact that the date happens to be my birthday is just an unexpected bonus.)

In the middle, though, you have a mess. Norse myths where everyone knows the ending, provided it hasn't happened already. Celtic heroes who are either gods, kings, or bastards, depending on what month it is. Hindu cycles within cycles upon a wheel. Greek chronologies which overlap onto each other until you have M.C. Escher's scrapbook.

I enjoy stories from all these cultures, but I can only do so in an episodic format. If I try to compile them into a grander story, though, I get lost in an instant.

"Hey, I thought Ganesh had an elephant's head."

"No, that's a different Ganesh."

"How many Ganeshes are there?"

"Just the one. But you're thinking of a different aspect."


Such has been my trial ever since the day I learned about Joseph Campbell. However, it finally clicked this weekend. You see, they're retiring Ken Dryden's jersey.

Think about it.

Yeah, exactly:

"Aren't the Montréal Canadiens supposed to be great?"

"No, those are the '55-'60 Canadiens."

"How many Canadiens are there?"

"Just the one team. But you're thinking of a different roster."


After that, it's easy!

Q1. How can a god die, but still be in the story?

A1. They're born again in a new season.

Q2. What's with all those planes of existence?

A2. Do you mean the minor leagues? The competition, like the WHA? Or Europe?

Q3. Why are those two buddies? I thought they were mortal enemies!

A3. Mid-season trades.

Q4. How come we see God X as a baby, child, and adult, but God Y is always the same age?

A4. Expansion draft.

Q5. What existed before their existence?

A5. Bar bets and face-slapping contests.

Okay, so it's not a perfect translation. Regardless, it holds up pretty well, even if I'm starting to think this says more about modern sports than it does about ancient myths. Could it be that someday, we'll view sports as some sort of religion?


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Canadian explorer. Chemist by training, biologist by nature. Long-time supporter and participant in National Novel Writing Month. Known as "Aquadeo" in most Internet circles. Also known as "that guy with the pants" to people who have seen me in certain pants.