November 30, 2007

Laura's Funny!

We were having breakfast at Elmo's in Chapel Hill, Erik, Laura, and I. Seemingly a propos of nothing, Erik says, "When did the Roman Empire fall?" Laura quickly replied, "When it tripped!" Apparently it was a legitimate question (albeit rhetorical - blah blah, did it ever really fall?), but I liked Laura's response better.

The next day, all of us were having lunch at Bandido's, when Laura started telling us about her mom's bidet-toilet combination. We were fascinated by the potential of this contraption to be used as both a bottom-cleaning and an orgasm-inducing device. Laura said, "I show it to all my friends who show up at my house. I usually tell them ahead of time, 'Don't poop before you come.'" I pointed out that "Don't poop before you come" is the best tagline I've ever heard for the various possible functions of a bidet-toilet.

November 23, 2007

Giving thanks for crazy relatives...

... the 2007 edition! In which Kristina blogs about real, true, actual conversations that occurred with or around her at the many Thanksgiving festivities in Charlottesville this year. I didn't think that much could top last year's activities. But just as I was despairing of passing another holiday without any stories, Patrick's relatives came through. But first....

Thursday - Dinner with my mom, her boyfriend, my grandparents, Patrick, and Laura.

Laura (immediately upon arriving at my mom's): Hi. My hand is gross because the honey dripped out of my pita onto the car seat.
Mom: I think there's medication for that.

Mom's Boyfriend (a propos of nothing): Why do white girls like black guys so much?
Laura: Uhm. Miscegenation means less liklihood for genetic issues.
Mom's Boyfriend: [blank stare]
Mom: It's because black men have big you-know-whats!

Patrick (in regard to my mom's electronic whoopie cushion, which delights her to no end): I could make a ring back out of that.
Me: Ring back is a great euphemism for fart.

Laura (who decided she wanted Patrick to make her a ring tone out of Tom Lehrer's We Will All Go Together When We Go): Am I a bad anthropologist if my phone's ring tone sings about Hottentots and Eskimos? Eh, I don't really care.

Friday - Dinner in Maryland with all of my inlaws.

Ellen (during a game of Apples to Apples): I don't have anything good. I'm going to commit seppuku.
Jeff: Seppuku?
Me: It's like hara-kari.
Tak: Me too. I'm going to commit sudoku too.

Ellen (at dinner): This turkey leg is delicious.
Me (to Patrick): Why do white girls like dark meat so much?

And finally, the pièce de résistance, a story from Patrick's aunt Ellen that went horribly awry, albeit only in my mind.

Ellen: I was at the library, and there were three kids, maybe 1, 2, and 7 years old, and a mother and a father. I saw the 2-year-old pinch the 1-year-old, right here (indicates the fleshy area between her thumb and forefinger) in the chub. I wanted to say something, but it's not my place to parent these kids. So I said loudly, "Looks like someone pinched someone else." A few minutes later, the father says, "Hey kids, let's go." And he left with the two boys. The 1-year-old and mother were a different family! And I felt so bad because I didn't say anything about this kid pinching the other one. He's going to turn out nasty, that kid, if he keeps going around pinching strangers in the chub.
Jim: He should learn not to do that. You can't just pinch another person's chub.
Ed: Right. Because one day he'll grab the wrong chub, and he'll be in trouble!

This story was way more drawn out (as Patrick's family is wont to do), so by the time Ed uttered that sentence, I was hiccuping with laughter. I turned to Patrick to see if he was similarly amused, but he gave me a blank look. So I excused myself to the bathroom, where I collapsed into silent fits of hysterics. Patrick came to check on me, and I explained what chub was a euphemism for and laughed so hard I started crying. He promptly took me out for a walk so that I didn't have to explain to his family what I found so funny. (I did end up explaining it to a subset of them later, but they didn't find it as funny as I did.)

Every once in a while, my inlaws make me laugh hysterically. Actually, it's usually Ellen's fault. Every once in a while, Ellen makes me laugh hysterically.

November 20, 2007


Catherine sent me a link to this story on the discovery in Rome of what could be the Lupercale, the cave in which the she-wolf supposedly suckled Romulus and Remus. It was found recently deep within the Palatine Hill, near Augustus' palace. The latter is set to be restored, commanding a $17.5 million price tag. While I think this discovery is terribly exciting, I do wish that more money could be given to the everyday projects that the Soprintendenza Archeologica di Roma undertakes. In the US, classical archaeology is often seen as a practice that seeks only to find important, historically-relevant sites and people. Projects such as skeletal analysis of people from ancient Rome's suburbium are severely underfunded, because who wants to know more about the poor and immigrant populations when we could funnel money into saving a cave that might or might not be a religious site? Obviously since my dissertation research is on these underrepresented, underresearched people of the Empire, I am a bit biased against sensational claims to history-making (or history-recreating) discoveries. Roman archaeologists in both Italy and the US need to start putting out press releases and otherwise announcing their discoveries of the "mundane," contextualizing the importance of these studies for our understanding of the past. As the population of contemporary Rome grows, we stand less of a chance of uncovering every last religious building that stood on the seven hills, but more of a chance to find out about the lower class in antiquity, those people who lived just outside the city walls, who worked for a living, who suffered from tuberculosis and leprosy, and who died without making history.

November 15, 2007


It's like that song from Rent is running through my mind.... Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes. Except it's fifty-six thousand two hundred dollars. Which is difficult to cram into a 13-syllable line, but my brain has been trying valiantly. Anyway, that's the total of the grant and fellowship money that I have spent the last six weeks applying for. Yes, all the days I've been back in the U.S. have been in service of getting either more money for isotope analysis (3 applications, about $8,000 of that total) or getting a fellowship for the 2008-09 school year (2 applications, the rest of the money) so that I don't have to TA and so that I get a great big monetary seal of approval on my dissertation project. So wish me luck with all of them (although I can only hold one fellowship, so I cannot actually accept all of the money, even if I am offered all of it... which I'm sure will never happen).

Now I get to start on all the things that I have been ignoring in favor of these deadlines, like revising an article for publication, ordering forensic texts for the spring, and writing recommendation letters (sorry for the delay, guys!). I also have super exciting news about another potential publication, but I'll post on it properly if it looks like it'll pan out. Stay tuned!

November 9, 2007

* * * * * * * * * *

My mom called me this afternoon, from the car on the way to Blacksburg for tomorrow's football game, with her boyfriend.

Mom: "Hey, what do you call that symbol on the keyboard? There's like a period and a semicolon and a little star."
Me: "What? The asterisk?"
Mom: "Yeah, how do you say that?"
Me: "I just said it. Asterisk. What's going on?"
Mom: "Oh, Sonny had a call-in contest on the radio yesterday. Because people pronounce it wrong. He said that anyone who called in and told him the right way to pronounce it would get a signed picture of him. So you get a signed picture of Sonny Randle now!"
Me: "Uhm. Great."
Mom: "How do you spell asterisk?"
Me: "A-S-T-E-R-I-S-K."
Mom: "So it's as-trisk?"
Me: "No, as-ter-isk."
Mom: "As-trisk?"
Me: "No, pronounce the E. Like aster-risk."
Mom: "What a weird word."
Me: "It's Greek. It means little star. Aster, like in astrology. The -isk part is a diminutive. You know, like in Italian a diminutive ending is -ello. Or -ina. Kind of how my name means little Christ."
Mom: "It does? I named you little Christ!"
Me (laughing): "Yeah, you did. Thanks for that."
Mom: "I thought it was a nice name. Diminutives, huh? Sonniskos! Sonnino! Sonny Randliskos!"
Me: "OK, mom, I have stuff to do. Talk to you later."

November 4, 2007


Patrick and I went to the Corning Museum of Glass yesterday (yes, that Corning) to see their exhibit on the Harvard glass flowers. The museum was a lot larger than I expected, with a decent display of ancient glass and glassworking techniques. (I'm sure the Renaissance and modern glass was impressive too, but there are only so many chalices you can see before getting bored.) Some highlights of the museum included trick drinking glasses like the basilisk and windmill (if you didn't finish your beverage by the time the windmill stopped, you had to drink an additional number as indicated on the cup); stained glass by Louis Comfort Tiffany and Frank Lloyd Wright; and glass eyes, also by the Harvard flowers guys. But my favorite piece in the museum was this chess set. It's the Catholics versus the Jews, with each piece equivalent in religious rank to the chess rank. The artist, Gianni Toso, is Jewish (I assume, since loads of his work involves Jewish art), so the chasidim are much more detailed than the Catholics. The best part? The mohel. Not only does he have a tiny little knife in one hand, he has a boy child in the other. A boy child with fully detailed anatomy, including a little spot of blood. Hilarious.

November 3, 2007

Gotta Go

Even better than those Pepto-Bismol commercials (unfortunately removed from YouTube due to copyright) where a group of people sings, "Nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, diarrhea" while doing exaggerated charades of all the actions is a new commercial for All Bran. I saw it while on the treadmill at the gym and had to keep from laughing out loud at the not-so-subtle visual metaphors for his - ahem - problem resolution. In all honesty, it wasn't until the final scene with the bricks that I got it. Anyway, enjoy:

November 1, 2007

Mother Pulse

I have no news to report about the Haunting by Uncle Frank unfortunately, but I am attracting all kinds of strange phenomena this week. This evening, while making dinner, I set aside the spoon I was using to stir a pot of red lentils. When I picked up the spoon again - lo and behold - there was a face on it! It can't be the Virgin Mary, since she often chooses wood upon which to reveal herself. (Heh, wood.) It's not Jesus either, since he seems to show up in white bread, potato chips, and other culinary delights of obese middle Americans. No, it takes a special kind of religious personage to appear in lentils, one who worked tirelessly in an area of the world that consumes lots of them: Saint Teresa, Mother of the Pulses. It's no NunBun, but this series of photos shows the uncanny resemblance to Mother Teresa:

And also photos of me with the miraculous visage. I call the series... From Ecstacy to Tasty!

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