Performance Review: The Gods of Olympus




Dear Zeus,

We have a problem. Our market researchers have recently finished compiling their report on you and your co-workers, and we've got some frightening statistics back from the humans. It would appear, according to the phone survey we did, that pretty much no one believes in you any more. Sure, they know who you are, but they simply have no faith in you - and, frankly, we're beginning to lose faith too.

You and your team are there to manage the affairs of the humans that they are unable to look after themselves. This includes, but is not limited to, the weather, falling in love, the ocean and - for some reason - corn. For a while now, it would appear that you have been working with the humans to implement some form 'self-determination' policy. It should be abundantly clear by now that the project, which was not without its merits a few thousand years ago, has failed.

That's why we've decided to issue this performance review - we hope that you, and your team, will be able to continue to work through these problems now, and nip them in the bud - we would hate to have to replace our entire staff at this late stage of proceedings.

We've had a business analyst come in to look at the way things are being run, and she has outlined some Key Performance Indicators for each of you and your team. By applying your skill sets to these KPIs, we've discovered that there are some inadequacies emerging within the team environment.

There will be changes. These changes won't necessarily be confined to the structure of the team - we will require some team members to undergo re-skilling seminars, and some will be placed on probation.

Also, several members have racked up more than a century of Annual Leave. Anyone with more than 100 years worth of holidays owing, could you please speak to Sandy in the payroll department, and organise to take at least 15 years holiday, prior to the end of this financial year.

The supreme god

First of all, we'd like to thank you for your time and effort over the past couple of thousand years. We know that the job you were given to do was a difficult one - your team has been working around the clock to make sure that things are ticking along nicely. But we need to be reassured that you're focusing on the right things. Are your goals in line with company policy?

You were initially hired for your wisdom and foresight, two skills that go a long way in this business. However, we've noticed that you've been slacking off recently. You used to be so much more vengeful and angry - our records show that you haven't raised a hand to smite anyone in nearly a century. If this isn't the case, please prepare a full report on your last ten smitings, and get it to us ASAP.

Also, we've had an image consultant in to identify any issues, and unfortunately you're at the top of the list for image problems. Her report was very bluntly worded - "Get Zeus to put some pants on, and trim that awful beard - he looks too much like a bit-part actor in a B-Grade 'Swords and Sandals' epic, and that's not gelling well with many of our target audience." We've booked you in for a makeover.

Goddess of marriage, and married women

Marriage. It's in all the headlines at the moment, but truth be told, it's not what it used to be. It's all coming apart, and you don't seem to be doing much about it.

We feel that you've merely been focusing on getting your inbound numbers up, with no thought as to which way the outbound figures will go in the future. While it's obviously good for the bottom line when you get the Unification Church marrying hundreds of thousands of people at once, what thought was given to how these marriages will pan out?

Divorce rates are through the roof, so we think you should look at doing some follow-up marketing. Despite efforts to convince some of the more modern 'churches' to hammer home the mortal sin angle of breaking one's marriage vows, we feel that it's just not working. Perhaps it's time to re-word the vow process - you might like to think about re-introducing yourself into the services being held. It seemed to work well a couple of thousand years ago.

The other aspect of your position is one that we're quite surprised about - it's the treatment of married women as possessions in some regions of the world. Frankly, we're appalled - you've allowed these women to become little more than indentured slaves to their husbands. This simply has to change, and change quickly. Consider this your first and final warning on the matter.

God of the sea

After repeated efforts to get in touch with you over the past few months, we had to resort to hiring a private investigator to track you down. We're appalled that you appear to have spent the past 100 years surfing off the coast of Indonesia. There's barely been a decent shipwreck in the past decade or so - a couple of oil spills and some dead penguins isn't going to cut it, I'm afraid. We'd like you to get back to the good old days, when shipwrecks were common and souls lost at sea were everywhere.

And another thing - we've noticed that there's been a serious decline in fish numbers. We know you've been busy keeping the Japanese humans from eating the whales, dolphins and every other single thing that they shouldn't, but it's been to the detriment of a bunch of other things too. It's the humans' job to eat the fish - and it's your job to make the fish have babies. So - if we can be so blunt - get the fish fucking, or you'll be out on your butt. No arguments.

We didn't coin the phrase 'worse things happen at sea' so that you could turn around and make the opposite the case. We're expecting disasters, drownings and many more surf-related mishaps. One tsunami in 200 years isn't nearly enough - we'd like to see a much bigger effort.

Goddess of corn, fruit and agriculture in general

Your big issue is Global Warming. Yes, it's great for cactuses, but bad for just about everything else. We feel your focus has become too narrow. It's time to get back to basics, and do something about growing more food. There are tons and tons more humans than when you took on this task, but - and here's the funny thing - there's no more land. They've figured out how to fly, and how to draw maps. That means we can't just 'make' another continent for them to 'discover', like we did with Australia. So that means getting your act together, and growing more food!

To start with, we require all corn - and we mean all corn - to be at least as high as an elephant's eye by the end of the current growing season. And there will be no talking to the Americans or French about Genetic Modification. You know the rules - we didn't have GM when you started this job, and we really don't like it when the entity we've chosen to look after a particular part of our natural cycle starts depending on little bald men in lab coats.

In terms of fruit, again we're a little worried that you're turning your back on tradition and going with the highest bidder. We read your last report - GM this and GM that. Don't think for a second that we're swallowing your 'one cup of GM rice can feed a nation for a week' rhetoric - we read exactly the same information, word for word, in the latest US FDA pamphlet. Passing off someone else's work as your own is pretty poor form. Passing it off so that it actually decreases your own workload is pathetic. You've been warned.

Also, we'd like some corn for dinner tonight. Lots of butter.

God of the sun, music and poetry

We're worried that you're not paying attention to the task at hand. Independent audits of your performance have some pretty severe variations in the time it's taking the sun to orbit the earth - and in some places, particularly up north, people have been complaining that you've been leaving the sun in the sky for up to twelve weeks, and then not bringing it back again for months at a time. We know it's a little bit 'out of the way' for you, but really… you're just being lazy.

You should think about how much time it's taking for the sun to move across the skies as well - it's pitifully slow, and at that rate, we're not surprised that it's sometimes taking all day for you to finish the task.

We're also worried about the music and poetry. Combining the two into 'song' was a good idea - we're all for the idea of streamlining your responsibilities, but we feel that you didn't really think things through. Surely, after the human race brought forth the song 'Hey Nonny Nonny', you should have realised that there was trouble brewing. But, because you've left it so long, we now have to go into total damage control mode.

We desperately need you to do something about the following problems: American Idol, the Grammy Awards, Blink 182 and Kenny G. We expect a report on the total cessation of production by those four key elements ready to be presented to the committee by Wednesday next week. If you can't handle the problem, ask Ares to help. His smiting skills are particularly well-honed at the moment.

Goddess of the moon, hunting and chastity

Artemis - we have some issues here. While you were off hunting god knows what, and steadfastly refusing to have sex, it would appear that the humans actually made it all the way to the moon.

In your pre-construction and subsequent reports, you initially identified placement of the moon as "well beyond the reach of mere mortals." Indeed, you were overheard bragging to Hermes that you would "eat Zeus' sandals" if they ever got there. Zeus has refused to give us his sandals, so you will be spared that public humbling.

However, for failing in your first area of responsibility, you'll need to be extra-vigilant in your next duty in order to make up for it. We need you to hunt down every single human that has been to the moon, and kill them. Painfully, if need be, but they need to be wiped out. Two of them came perilously close to Apollo's holiday house by the Sea of Tranquility. You know how he requires privacy when he's not working.

We are also a little worried about the chastity angle. More and more of the humans are having sex, and as we all know, the more sex they have, the more humans there appear to be. We understand that you're working at odds with Aphrodite, and that she has a much higher profile than yours. However, you need to lift your game.

We thought you were on to something when you teamed up with Apollo and got that Britney Spears person to denounce having sex before marriage. You should probably have done a little more homework on that one, though - it turns out she's a trollop. Invest your time and efforts a little more wisely in the future, please.

Goddess of wisdom

It's hard to know where to start on your report, Athene. With all your wisdom and experience, we expected your productivity to be through the roof. Instead, we leafed through your report with something close to incredulity. You may well think that you're spreading wisdom throughout the world, but in reality you are merely diluting the knowledge bank that you have been entrusted to build.

So - your reliance on Trivial Pursuit and Who Wants to be a Millionaire to spread obscure facts to the populace must stop. Right now. We would prefer that you encouraged people to read, rather than sit passively, staring at this 'television' thing you invented. Yes, it's great for keeping the smaller, more active humans in a submissive state, but in the long run it's quenching their thirst for knowledge before they even know what it is they're supposed to be learning.

Your worst mistake, though, isn't the 'television'. It's the Internet. Your early reports promised that it would become an 'instantly accessible repository of knowledge', but instead, as Howard from Accounting has pointed out, it has become a 'totally regrettable suppository of filth'. The humans are not sharing knowledge with each other - with the exception of about seven or eight people who still use it to share scientific data, the other countless millions of mindless online users are sitting there murdering their mother tongue and sending each other naked photos of themselves. This is the largest, most monumental blunder ever committed - for a wise woman, you certainly lack forethought sometimes.

We suggest you get back to carving things on stone tablets and handing them out to people who you think will be able to spread the message with some sense of dignity. Try finding someone who is prepared to spread the message without taking off their pants.

Goddess of love and beauty

Aphrodite, it's back to basics for you, I'm afraid. It's commendable that you've created an industry on the planet that is worth trillions of dollars, but this has all come at a cost. The Beauty industry is a frightening miasma of chemicals, herbs and celebrities - much like the Oscars, only infinitely less fun. Even men are getting in on it now - these so-called 'metrosexuals' are actively lining up to smear goo on their faces and comb their hair. Whatever happened to simply rubbing oneself with olive oil, donning a tunic and sandals and letting the sun do its job of bronzing the human's flesh?

If that's not bad enough, consider the 'breakthrough' of plastic surgery, where otherwise ordinary people are having the fat sucked from their arses and injected into their lips. Have they all gone mad? We know that some of you feel that you might be a bit 'ugly', but you can rest assured that the people who carved your likenesses into marble are long-dead, and would be aware by now that the practice of making the God's noses 'a little bit bigger, just for a laugh' has condemned their souls for all eternity.

Also, get rid of Valentine's Day. It's not funny anymore.

God of eloquence and speech

I'm at a loss for words, which is why you're this close to being fired. There are several key humans whose every spoken word is played, and replayed, across the entire planet. Surely, they would be the most deserving of your attention. However, even in just a few minutes of observing the one they call 'The President', it's frighteningly apparent that you are failing in your responsibilities. He can barely string a coherent sentence together, and when he does manage it, it's empty rhetoric that he's clearly cobbled from one of Ares' press releases. It's all 'war this, destroy that, enemy them, hungry now, need drugs, sleepy sleepy,' from this guy, and it's just not on.

You need to adopt a 'trickle down' approach to this one, rather than choosing random humans and bestowing upon them the gift of eloquence. Most, if not all, of these humans you're working with are going on to a career in telemarketing, while the rest of the human race struggles to understand it's most powerful member.

We feel that you should probably go back over some of your earlier work, and see if you can develop things a little better. Start back with Plato and his mates - they seemed to love to talk, and could hold forth on any subject for hours and hours. These days, everyone seems to speak in fragments. It's awful. Fix it. See? Bugger. Now we're doing it.

God of war

You've clearly been extremely busy, and that's gratifying to see. There was a good, steady workflow coming from your department, but recently it's been getting a little sporadic. This might have something to do with your new weapons policy, which seems to have unbalanced things slightly. We need you to rethink your synergies in terms of viable opponents.

Broaden your outlook. It's wonderful that you've managed to achieve your goal of building the 'perfect superpower'. But you've spent so much time focused on that one project that there's nothing left for the superpower to compete with. We've had to introduce a ridiculous amount of moral decay to that society, and we've even stooped as low as arming virtually every man, woman and child, in the vain hope that they'll take themselves out because no one else is strong enough to stop them.

We are worried about your reliance on modern weaponry - taken all the 'fun' and 'spirit' out of warfare. We'd like to see more up close and personal action - the humans appear to be more frightened of someone running them through with a sword than they do about being gassed on the subway. We're of the opinion that you should probably work on ridding the world of guns, an giving everyone swords and sandals again - our recent 'market research' films were very popular, particularly the film with the one they call Russell Crowe.

Also, if we catch you playing Warcraft on your work computer again, you'll be fired. This is your final warning.

God of fire and the chief workman of the gods

You appear to be weakening, and we don't like it. You seemed to have a golden period throughout the early parts of the first millennium, and getting the humans to form Guilds were a masterstroke. Then, aside from a few pimply ratbags throwing wooden shoes into machinery in France, there's been nothing.

Your attempts to influence the world with heavy-handed worker's rights baloney clearly hasn't worked. Those poor fellows Lenin and Marx copped an awful hiding for listening to you, and Jimmy Hoffa… what happened there? How could that go so horribly wrong? They still have found that nice Jimmy Hoffa's body, have they? If they haven't found it by next week, you find it. Dig it up yourself if you have to. Just get that issued sorted once and for all.

It's a terrible shame - you've got two responsibilities, and one of them is so dead-easy that we're worried about your base competency levels. We know you have fire under control - after all, how hard is it to cut a few chunks of wood and make sure there's still smoke coming out of the chimney when you get home from work?

We've arranged for you to attend a seminar on worker's and human rights - it's being organised by the Teamsters, and it's in a lovely place called 'Miami'. The guest speaker is apparently the unfortunately named Noam Chomsky - he's got a few things to say that you should probably listen to. Also, see if you can get him to spare some time to chat to Hermes - he's quite the expert on language, apparently. We're a little dubious about this qualification, though - that someone so skilled at language should have a name that makes no sense at all is puzzling.

God of wine and merrymaking

We've saved the worst for last, I'm afraid. We have read through your report, and it's fairly obvious to us that you're losing your touch. Humans, it has been observed, really love to party - but it's becoming clear that you're now relying on too many external influences to keep them going. The days where are a party consisted of a few bottles of wine, some from of lute and a bonfire by the sea are largely gone. In fact, the only humans that still practice this sort of behaviour are itinerant surfers - and even they have turned to drugs to dull their senses.

Your apparent reliance on chemicals to keep humans partying long after they should be asleep is also deplorable. We understand that feeding them amphetamines will have a positive response for the bottom line, but just because they're partying longer and can drink more wine, it doesn't mean that you're doing any better at your job. You should have been feeding the humans wine and song, and trying to keep them off the drugs. It makes them weird.

One last thing - dance crazes are to be avoided at all costs. They are a very lazy way of getting boring people onto a dance floor. Plus, if we see one more human doing the macarena, you'll be fired.

All up, this is a very poor result. We have no alternative but to send you to rehab. A room at the Betty Ford Clinic has been booked under the name Robert Downey Jr - he is a human who has apparently been in and out of the centre so often that his arrival and departure is no longer news - you should be able to slip in undetected. Remember to take your time, and get well. We're all right behind you on this one.


To summarise, we have some good news and bad news. Some of you will be reassigned to cover other people's portfolios for a short while. The following changes need to be made.

Ares can cover for Aprhodite while she assists Hera with her duties in the field of marriage. We'll look at combining those two portfolios in the near future as well - it's abundantly clear that divisionalising love and marriage into separate departments has been a catastrophic failure. We feel that by placing Ares in charge, he can bring some of the conflict under control while Aphrodite and Hera work on their respective issues.

While Dionysus is in rehab, we'll pull Posedion off the sea and put him in charge of the parties -his experience in dealing with humans that can't stop vomiting should see him do quite well.

Hermes has his work cut out for him getting people to speak properly again, so we've decided to get Athene to work with him. Hermes will assist Athene by ridding the Internet of 'Leet Speak' - Athene will help Hermes by providing some much-needed intelligence to our world leaders.

The rest of you need to focus on getting your portfolios in order. Time is of the essence on this one, people. We dropped the ball from a PR standpoint when none of you made even the slightest appearance at the Olympic Games in Athens… let's not let that happen again.

We'll be watching closely, and sending out personal memos in future. If you need to contact me at any time, you may do so my calling my secretary and making an appointment.

Yours truly,

Thomas Coltrane
Grand Master
United Grand Lodge of Freemasons.

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