Friday, November 28, 2008

Missing Something?

A graffito from Pompeii:

equa esiquei aberavit cum semuncis honerata a d
VII Kal Septembres Decembres
convenito Q Deciu Q l Hilarum aut L Decium L
l Amphionem citra pontem

Translated (loosely):

"If somebody lost a horse loaded with saddlebags on the 25th of November, get in touch with Quintus Decius Hilarus (freedman of Quintus) or Lucius Decius Amphio (freedman of Lucius) at the estate of Mamius on this side of the bridge over the Sarno."

Nice to see people doing the right thing!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

At Dawn I Will Win!

Switching musical gears ever-so-slightly from the preceding post...

Quite recently I was chatting music with a friend of mine, and the topic came round to those pieces of operatic music which have become famous outside of the contexts of the actual operas for which they were written. The list of such pieces is fairly long. You've got "The Anvil Chorus," "La Donna E' Mobile," "Musetta's Waltz," "The Ride of the Valkyrie," (I am sure that there's a large segment of the population that, upon hearing "The Ride of the Valkyrie," subconsciously supplies either: a) the sound of Vietnam-era helicopters, or b) Elmer Fudd singing "kill da wabbit, kill da wabbit!"), "The Toreador Song," "The Queen of the Night's Aria," and many many others (Edit!:...such as "The William Tell Overture!" Thanks Llama!) .

There is, however, one piece that is the arch-overlord of all of the sort of "operatic popular songs." Here 'tis (watch, just as the three of them have finished singing, for the glance that Pavarotti shoots at his two colleagues. It is a glance that quite eloquently says "boys, we just nailed that..."):

I would have posted this earlier, but I had to watch the video to make sure it was working properly. About 47 times.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sic Transit Something Or Other

Right. Well, you can probably file this under "things I never thought I would see":

Here's what our esteemed Country Life Butter spokesman was up to about 30 years ago:

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Rabbit Tale

One day, near my office...

"ZzzzZZzzzz*snork* "Huh, wha...?"

"Hey, who're you?"

"Ok, don't come any closer, Bub!"

"That's it, I'm outta here... Hey look! Grass!"


BONUS!!: Olde-timey rabbit appears... in sepia!!!

"You called?"

Ok, not much of tale... But it's a tale nonetheless!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Oh, I've Seen This Before!

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

Shades of the departed Claudia cat, who used to enjoy very much lying on the hot-air vents!

Friday, November 14, 2008

You, Sir, Are My Hero!

You are also nuts.

The following is the in-car video from a rally-race in France. The goodness starts at about the 1:00 mark, when the car's throttle cable snaps. Race over, one would think. However, the driver quickly figures out that the throttle itself is still functioning, and merely cannot be controlled from the driver's compartment. What follows is truly epic...


So I trotted up to my mailbox this afternoon, and discovered therein a mysterious envelope from Newcastle upon Tyne, England. "That's strange," I thought. "I don't think I know anybody in Newcastle." Turns out that the letter was a completely unsolicited offer to publish my PhD thesis, from an outfit that knows the working title but seems unaware that the thesis has not been, you know, written yet.

My first cynical thought was "hello, vanity press!" However, I've checked out the company's website, and they do seem to be into publishing scholarly works (a three-volume edition of the works of Statius, for example). I shall have to e-mail them and find out what's up!

I shall also check around this corner of the Classical 'hood and see what the 411 is on them, yo. More bulletins as events warrant.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

This Looks Interesting!

Google Earth revives ancient Rome

Google has added a new twist to its popular 3D map tool, Google Earth, offering millions of users the chance to visit a virtual ancient Rome.

I think I need to get a computer and put Google Earth on it! Then I can indulge in writing peevish blog posts saying things like: "Well, they obviously got the Temple of Mars Ultor all wrong..."

Kidding. I've seen a few virtual reality reconstructions of ancient sites, and they tend to be really really cool. It's likely that this one will be too!

The Temple of Mars Ultor, as it is today

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Milestone And Some Other Stuff!

Dydd-Llun, Dydd-Mawrth, Dydd-Mercher, Dydd-Iau, Dydd-Gwener, Dydd-Sadwrn, Dydd-Sul.

And what are those? Well, if you guessed "the days of the week in Welsh," then good for you! That makes Welsh, I believe, the only living language which has retained the old pagan Roman system of naming the days of the week in its entirety! In Latin, they were:

Dies Lunae, Dies Martis, Dies Mercurii, Dies Iovis, Dies Veneris, Dies Saturni, Dies Solis.

It's worth noting that Cornish and Breton also maintained the pagan Roman system, while the other Celtic languages (Irish, Manx, and Scots Gaelic) had adopted some of the Christian tradition. Cornish and Breton are, of course, no longer living languages.

All this, by the way, is courtesy of one of my students. I gave them my "Roman Calendar" spiel yesterday, and today discovered that she'd sent me a long and interesting e-mail about the Celtic languages and their days of the week. I do like it when they get into what I'm talking about!

In other news, this is the 100th post on this blog! So, to celebrate, have some 100th-post-suitable music:

Friday, November 7, 2008

Better. Than. Nirvana.

During the recent riot-grrrrl musical interluding, I left somebody out. Oversight corrected (Actually it wasn't really an oversight. I just wanted to post those two particular videos)!

Warning: NSFW language!

And here they are again, in a quieter sort of mood, mostly.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

On The Recent U.S. Election

Well, that was a fine, fine evening. In particular, here's to the voters in Indiana, Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Iowa, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, and probably North Carolina (CNN isn't saying for sure, yet), who removed their states from Republican hands, at least as far as the presidential vote was concerned. My favourite line of the night was trotted out by one of the CNN analysts (can't remember who it was, exactly). I'm paraphrasing here, but as he looked at the crowd in Chicago awaiting Obama's victory speech, he said: "It is difficult to imagine at this time how this country ever elected George W. Bush." Indeed, sir, indeed...

Update: The Onion weighs in!

Monday, November 3, 2008

In Which We Find August Company

Well, this is nice! Commenting on the whole CCF vs. Gencon story is this blog! And, in the middle of their commenting, we find the following (emphasis all mine):

"Because if you don’t take the check, and you can’t come up with a more sensible rationale than “we didn’t want people associating our charity with role-playing gamers”, a lot of people who would otherwise view your charity in a good light are going to ask what the hell is wrong with you. They are going to ask this of you directly and ask their friends, in public and online, at Daily Kos, the Gen Con forums, Pharyngula,, Wizards of the Coast,, Live Game Auctions, Giant in the Playground, Steve Jackson Games, Purple Pawn, De Koboldorum Rebus, Unscrewing the Inscrutable, ad infinitum."

Wowzers! And thank you!