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dissertation

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I’m Fascinating

I have interesting things to say, I do. I have funny and punny jokes to share, I swear. I have many thoughts on politics (hello election), money (yes, please), lifting (new 100% Raw Federation squat world record holder in the -148 class with a 286# squat!), boys (:D), material concerns (it’s cold and I love clothes), health (trying to keep it healthy), happiness (smile every day!), and food (…chocolate…). Many and more. I have tales to tell. But for now….

Call me Sisyphus

But for now? For now the thought of organizing the above into delightful blog posts to share with the world is daunting. If you guessed “because of the dissertation?” then you are correct.

Grammar, bitches

My teaching schedule tells me we’re halfway through the semester (my kids are such good students!), and I’m 90 pages into Chapter 2 alone. A Chapter that is about to get some serious attention from a red pen by my dutiful advisor. And then I wave goodbye to my social life.

Stress levels on red alert

Well, here goes….

I’m still fascinating, so sorry if I bored you.

ūüėõ

Goals

“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” ~Zig Ziglar

I’ve learned that unless you actually state realistic goals to achieve, you won’t work as hard. So, here I am setting some goals to achieve by June 2013.

Strength goals:

Deadlift 350#/159kg

Back Squat 300#/136.5kg

Bench Press 150#/68kg (with a pause)

Clean & Jerk 200#/90kg (or more)

Snatch 160#/73kg (or more)

Qualify for USAW National Championships as a -69kg (need a 153kg Total in a meet… best official Total to date is 140kg. The meet is early March, 2013. Let’s do this).

After all, Sean Connery picked up a weight or two 

AND he liked to pick up a book or two, as well.

and played a professor, as well as a father to a professor (and archaeologist… oh it’s all fitting together so nicely)

Which leads me to… Academic goals:

Finish dissertation, defend dissertation, get doctoral degree.

Keep up to date on “to-do” list for dissertation in order to accomplish above goal.

Present stellar papers at (at least) two conferences this year (Darmstadt, CAMWS).

Publish the AAR pottery article! (This is a group effort, but it WILL get done! And soon!)

Get stellar teacher reviews for my course on mythology and epic at the University of Richmond.

Personal goals:

Continue to be awesome every day.

Visit friends and family often.

Quality over quantity every time.

…unless you are Sean Connery, in which the two are mutually exclusive.

HERAKLES: A (Brief) Discourse on Heroes, Part 3

Herakles (or “Hercules” to many of you), that Panhellenic hero-god everyone knows and loves, who has muscled his way into modern pop-culture… truly immortal.

¬†…from Ryan Gosling to Kevin Sorbo…¬†

…all the way to Disney.

Muhammad Ali may have “wrastled with an alligator”, but Herakles wrestled everyone and everything. Known for his incredible strength, his first feat was to kill a lion whose hide was so tough no weapon could pierce it. So he wrestled it, eventually killing it with his bare hands.

Vatican 20262 -- Herakles wrestles the Nemean lion, Athena looks on.

Hence he was depicted wearing the lion’s hide as his identifying garment. Sometime he wields bow and arrow, sometimes a large club, sometimes both. He often has curly hair and a beard, and a few painters took pains to ensure the viewer understood his hair was curly by inserting thick blobs of slip as if to represent tight curls.

Vatican 16546 -- Guess who?

He was the hero “par excellence” for all of Greece. He was worshipped on the islands, on the mainland, in northern Greece, and even as far as Sicily. Later the Etruscans revered him, as did the Romans. He appealed to all — the traveling hero with brute strength.

It makes sense he appealed to athletes. Offerings were made to him by competitors before the Games at Olympia. What is lesser known is that he appealed to musicians, as well. Herakles is a patron hero of ALL athletes, including those of the mousikos agon(musical contest). Almost everyone is familiar of the deeds of Herakles and the monsters he bested, his muscular athletic build and victorious nature, but few are familiar with the stories concerning the musical education of Herakles. It is no surprise, then, that only a handful of the many visual representations of Herakles during the late Archaic periods depict him playing a lyre as a musical contestant. A handful of Athenian vases dating to the late sixth century depict Herakles holding a kithara (a fancy lyre), standing on a pedestal, flanked by Athena and either Hermes or Dionysos.

Athens, NAMA 635 -- Herakles in center playing a lyre, flanked by Athena and Hermes.

Vatican 16590 -- Herakles in center, playing a kithara, flanked by Dionysos and Athena

Here he is the guitar hero: performing at a mousikos agonin the hopes of winning the monetary prize and golden crown. Musical contests took place in nearly every ancient Greek city. At some major Greek Games, contests in music and similar arts formed a part of the program, on a par with athletic contests. The kithara was the most esteemed instrument, and the first place prize in kithara singing was a gold crown worth one thousand drachmas (perhaps worth as much as $150,000 in modern terms). The contestants won prizes for their success just as athletes won prizes for theirs.

The ancient athletic contests were religious in function, held in honor of a god (Olympics for Zeus, Pythian for Apollo, Panathenaian for Athena… and so on). These musical scenes could be seen as religious scenes, though not as obviously religious as Herakles sacrificing at an altar.

NY Met 41.162.29 -- Herakles roasting meat on spits over an altar

However, the issue of Herakles’s piety is a topic for a whole other blog post.

Watch this space.

Random Ramblings (and a poem)

Global Warming is in the house, baby! It’s sunny and 65 degrees on the East Coast and there’s snow falling through the oculus of the Pantheon in Rome. Here in Tucson, all is as it should be, but I’m surreptitiously enjoying it through a window of a coffee shop (aka my office). Dissertation: I will write you.

Susan B. Komen for the Cure Foundation caused quite the hubbub the past couple days when they decided to retract their funding to Planned Parenthood. The outcome? Peer pressure got them to reverse their decision and also caused over $700,000 in donations to Planned Parenthood, with many thanks to Mayor Bloomberg and LIVESTRONG. Righteous, right! RIGHT. I don’t care about your political beliefs, but if you don’t support healthcare for all, then please reconsider your disposition. If you can provide a solid argument as to why people should not have access to cancer screenings and support, then I’ll listen.

….¬†

That’s what I thought.

And as for Komen? Well, this looks interesting. 

In totally unrelated news, I’ve decided I’m not hipster enough to be such a regular coffee-shop patron. Oh well. At least I found a place with amazing iced coffee and large tables at which I can spread out all my stuff while I work.

……………………

WRITING REPOSE (by me)
Rationing my logic
to organize my day.
Smiling with emotion
I know no other way.
–I want to try you on,
–I won’t say no,
–But life’s schedule
–says I’m too damn practical.
I can’t commit
I always quit
Gonna change my ways
I’ll start today
–Adding more numbers
–to my stack of plates
–Diving under the bar
–I fear all that weight.
I want a change
I yearn for success —
yet mental obstacles
I do not address.
–I can’t commit,
–I always quit,
–Gonna change my ways,
–won’t hold myself at bay.

She’s Gone Country… Look at them Boots

For a whole month I’ve been back in USA, back in Tucson, back at my childhood home, back in cowboy boots. I took lots of pictures¬†of some highlights and this beautiful city (you should all come visit). I don’t know what it is about the Southwest that always keeps me wanting to return, and keeps me happy when I’m here, and makes me feel… right… in those boots (but still no hat). The sun is bright, the tank tops and shorts are out, the wildlife abounds, and the water is consumed by the gallon. I’d love to go horseback-riding again, too. It’s been ages, and that’s just a darn shame.

So, as for my intermittent life back in Grand Canyon state…

I’m lifting at a new gym, Crossfit Works; it’s a CrossFit gym, but it has this special club¬†that adheres well to my new focus: Olympic weightlifting. 4 days a week I get to spend 2 hours of my day trying to max out my snatch (currentl 130# and lots of failed 135# attempts) and clean and jerk (currently 165#… would love to try 170# soon — once I remember how to jerk properly ). In case you didn’t know… squatting heavy weights is good for you.

I have a new laptop, and I show it off at new coffee shops while I work on my dissertation. Epic Cafe¬†is my go-to fave, but I’m still open to checking out newer establishments in town. Finding my new writing environment, one coffee cup at a time.

And now that I’m quite settled here back in Tucson, I’ve just packed up a bag for yet another trip (complete with cowboy boots). Tomorrow I head to Philadelphia for the annual AIA¬†conference, where I’ll sit in on a host of great talks and see a plethora of familiar archaeological faces. It’s like one huge party! And in a great city, nonetheless. Added perk: my uncle lives there! Then it’s back to Charlottesville for a week! I get to see friends, lift at my old box, dance at Sunday Salsa, and get all my things, and my car (my Honda Fit, Paolo!), and pack up that car with all those things before driving West!!! Roadtrip!!!

Charlottesville –> Atlanta –> Baton Rouge –> Austin –> El Paso –> the sunny Old Pueblo. I have maps, I have more maps, I hope to have good books on tape, I have friends’ places where I can crash, and I have the wide open road to explore!

All while wearing my cowboy boots and, yes, listening to country music.

Springtime plan: keep PRing every month and keep writing every day. Full draft of dissertation done by June? 150# snatch? 190# clean and jerk? All totally within my reach. ¬†…and still wearing those boots.

Let’s do this.

Home Again in Italy

It’s amazing how visiting old haunts can be incredibly calming yet invigorating and all at the same time eye opening. Since I have been to Italy more times than I can count with one hand (for academic trips, archaeological excavations, and travel with the family), I am taking it easy with my camera and instead just enjoying the moments spent back in Florence, Umbria, and Rome with my lovely parents. But that doesn’t mean I’m just sitting around all day doing nothing! My feet have tread upon familiar streets and even dared to travel down unfamiliar alleys. My tongue has tasted familiar flavors (bistecca alla Fiorentina, insalata caprese, gelato gelato gelato gelato, prosecco) and daring flavors (vitello tonnato — interestingly delicious). Though in other countries I was amused by British lingo, faked my French, and stumbled my way through attempts to comprehend German, my knowledge of Italian has flowed back into my brain and onto my tongue like the embrace of an old friend.

It turns out that one of my favorite foodie blogs recently posted an “Ode to Italy” which nicely sums up my feelings exactly along with gorgeous photos. And just because I see no reason not to add to my already giant collection of Italian photos, I’ve added a slideshow of my own. Enjoy, my lovelies.

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And yes, I even managed to get dissertation work accomplished, thanks to the National Archaeological Museum in Florence, the Villa Giulia in Rome and the Museo Vaticano. And my old but still functioning laptop. And for some reason neither Florence nor Rome has a CrossFit gym, but I make do with what I have, so between the push-ups, handstands, sit-ups, walking lunges, and laps swum, I also back-squatted my mother.

 

Where Have All The Good Men Gone and Where Are All the Gods…

Let’s talk about heroes.

…Dead ones (long dead).

…Mythological ones (Herakles and Theseus!).

…Heroes with cult in Athens (sorry, Achilles, but helllllo Ajax).

….Heroes you’ve probably never heard of (Eumolpos, Triptolemos, Erichthonios, Akamas, Demophon…).

Heroes and their cult are the main ingredient of my dissertation, and their representations on late Archaic Athenian vase-painting are the reasons I’m traveling from city to city in Europe spending hours with vases in museums (lovely lovely hours).

Sometimes I get so wrapped up with organizing my notes from a recent museum visit, or noting connections between this vase and that, or marking when an unusual subject is portrayed, that I forget I am in Europe, in some wonderful city waiting to be explored, and instead I just sit with my notes and my images and work.

This is not a bad thing, really, considering that I *should* be devoting the majority of my time to my dissertation! I want this Ph.D., after all.

So, since heroes are so much on my mind, some of my future posts will be devoted to heroes relevant to my work. This way, in future contexts when I blather on excitedly about so-and-so you can be a little more informed about who so-and-so is! The first ones will cover some of the more familiar heroes, such as Herakles (NOT Hercules, this is Greek vase-painting!), Theseus, and the ever solemn Ajax. I may just start with that last guy, since he’s quickly forming a large soft spot in my heart with his name written all over it. Aww Ajax, the guy just doesn’t get enough credit.

I may also include tidbits on how these ancient heroes of old still play a role in our own pop culture (I like that sort of thing…. cue “Xena” …). To kick things off, here’s the trailer for a new movie coming out based (very loosely) on Theseus. Now that that’s done, I refuse to discuss this trailer any further.