Finding Your Religion

Pick your personal Jesus, plus three questions for a pop princess and the poetry of heavy metal

Aphrodite

Description: Greek goddess of love, beauty, desire and fertility. She was also vain, jealous and impulsive (read: slutty).

Pop manifestations: Madonna, Britney, Christina, Beyoncé, Faith Hill, Shania Twain and almost every woman associated with hip-hop or on MTV. Beauty is their most obvious quality. Another is their willingness to exploit the age-old "Madonna/ whore" dichotomy, which is today more commonly described as the "lady in the streets but a freak in the sheets" split. Pop Aphrodites have as many high-profile affairs as their man-eating namesake, both with fellow divines (Madonna and Sean Penn, Beyoncé and Jay-Z) and commoners (Madonna and Britney with their dancing himbos).

Apollo

Description: Handsome, dull god associated with philosophy, law, healing, reason and technical proficiency in music.

Pop manifestations: Humorless male artists with Important Messages, such as Sting, Chuck D, Michael Stipe, Don Henley and Scott Stapp; also guitar wankers such as Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai and Joe Satriani, and all smooth jazz.

Athena

Description: Zeus' favorite daughter, the Greek goddess of wisdom, severe beauty and noble war, among other things.

Pop manifestations: Combative female artists with something to say, including Ani DiFranco, Nina Simone, PJ Harvey, Joni Mitchell and Avril Lavigne. Liz Phair was once an Athena disguised as an Aphrodite; now she's the reverse.

Dionysus

Description: God of drunkenness, ecstasy, mindlessly losing yourself in the moment -- in short, "partying."

Pop manifestations: Lil' Jon and crunk music are Dionysus incarnate. Hair metal was also Dionysus music, as was ABBA, disco, funk, Jerry Lee Lewis, Todd Snider, Little Richard, James Brown, the Beastie Boys, Andrew W.K., the Darkness and most music out of New Orleans. If you've ever puked to it, it's probably Dionysus music. Jim Morrison was an Apollo posing as a Dionysus.

Eros

Description: Male god of love.

Pop manifestations: All music designed to get someone in the mood for good old-fashioned belly-poppin' -- Barry White, Luther Vandross, "quiet storm" music, Marvin Gaye, Al Green and Prince.

Hades

Description: God of death and the underworld.

Pop manifestations: Ronnie James Dio, Tenacious D, all death metal, Styx (you'll wish you were dead listening to them), Marilyn Manson, the Cure, Joy Division and Nick Cave.

Medusa

Description: Former beauty who wound up a snake-haired monster whose gaze turned men to stone.

Pop manifestations: Unstable women who upset men, such as Karen O, Pink, Alanis Morissette, Stevie Nicks and Tori Amos. Also, wrecked beauties such as Carlene Carter. And Michael Jackson, whose gaze turns me to stone.

Pandora

Description: Cause of all the trouble in the world.

Pop manifestations: Courtney Love, Yoko Ono. Don't open their boxes.

Zeus

Description: Lord of the gods, king of kings, master of the universe. Had his pick of the women and liked to hurl lightning bolts from above at the foolish mortals below.

Pop manifestations: All big boss men: Muddy Waters, Bob Wills, Hank Williams, Ray Charles, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Kurt Cobain, Bob Marley, Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson -- you get the picture. -- John Nova Lomax

Questions 3: Hilary Duff

If you are an adult, it is in very bad taste to be attracted to sixteen-year-old Hilary Duff, and it's in even worse taste to be attracted to her music. Nonetheless, there is nothing wrong with being attracted to her celebrity, for the very words "Hil Duff" to send shivers down your spine. Now a "triple-threat" television, movie and recording-industry star, she has joined an elite group that also includes Queen Latifah, Will Smith, Alyssa Milano and Jennifer Love Hewitt. Hil spoke to B-Sides recently about politics, celebrity and her archrival, Lindsay Lohan, during a rare 450-second chunk of free time.

The Riverfront Times: If you were old enough to vote, would you vote Democrat or Republican?

Hilary Duff:Wow! Such a direct question. I'm so busy, so I don't know, really. But Britney Spears said she would support whoever's in office, and I like that.

Who's your bestest celebrity friend?

That's such a weird question! I really stay away from that. I don't go out and party. That stuff seems so superficial. I'm not a part of the Hollywood "cool" crowd. I mean, if you talked to any of them they might think I'm kind of rude or standoffish, but I really just like to hang out with my friends.

In Richard Roeper's article forEsquire entitled "The Jailbait Dilemma," he asks if "ogling tweeners make us dirty old men." Where do you come down on this issue?

I saw that! There's the big, weird caricature of me. I don't really know the answer; I'm not a middle-aged man. I guess some people like different things. But I think I'm a good girl compared to Lindsay Lohan, and I probably dress like a normal sixteen-year-old. I don't think I'm always trying to show off my boobs and butt like some people. -- Ben Westhoff

Death-Metal Haiku
The naming of rock bands has taken some strange turns of late. You've got that whole emo non sequitur/Mad Lib thing that's so easy to parody -- Autumn of My Radio, Leaves in the Ocean, It's a Mahogany Future and the like are simple to come up with. Geography is also a current popular trend in band-naming, and here you can find dozens of map-based doozies: Submersion of Japan, Mexico in Flames and Normal, Ohio are but three films that happen to be great would-be band names in this new wave of atlas-based band nomenclature.

But one genre has always stayed true to its roots. One genre doesn't pussyfoot around with slippery mental images, twee irony or stupid maps, unless they be of the infernal regions. I speak, of course, of metal.

I took the names of some death metal bands and made them into a few horrific haikus. My only guidelines were to follow the basic rules of haiku (five syllables first line, seven the second and five the third) and to incorporate at least one band's name in each line. With a couple of exceptions, I didn't use the same band name twice. Feast your puny eyes on these, mortal humans! Carve them into your skin with rusty blades!

(Crap, looking at these I see I cheated a little on the syllable count -- but hey, I'm not Japanese, and all I had to work with were the names of death-metal bands. Cut me some slack, haiku dorks! By the way, all band names are italicized.)

Sweet Jane

It's the end of all
My forever is forgotten
I'm so far from Jane.

Ruin

Animosity!
The divine empire impaled!
Statues cry bleeding!

Back Alley

This dying fetus,
From a second story window,
hurled into the moat.

Draught

Taste my hemlock
Someday Carolina,
and you'll suffokate. Death Do Us Part

Twelve-gauge valentine!
The Arnolfini Marriage
is mutilated!

En Fuego

Mr. Hinkus was
Set ablaze by anal blasts.
High misery index!

Ah, Nature

She's six feet under,
gored by the Vampire Mooose, torn
Apart by horses. I Want You!

Join or die, Pinhed!
Cerebral rot won't save you
the final burden.

Elimination

My macabre meat shits,
my colon's misery signals,
steak's immortal remains.

Elimination No. 2, A Variation on a Theme

They are shed for you
anal blast meat shits burning
issue from my guts

Customer Service

"Kill the client!"
was my dire incantation,
his crimson massacre. -- John Nova Lomax

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