Vaguely Curious asks:

Hi! Don’t feel any pressure to answer this if you don’t want (I know it’s a bit more personal than most of your questions), but if you don’t mind answering… Are you and Jim the Editor boyfriends? O:
(For context, I know you’re gay [I am too, so it made me so happy when I first saw you mention that], but I don’t know if it’s come up on the blog whether he is, nor if you’re an item.)
Again, sorry if this is too personal or awkward! I’m just curious, ahah.

I don’t think this is the first time it’s come up, but it’s definitely been a while.  Anyway, I can kinda see how people might get that impression, but with apologies to anyone who’s been shipping us – no, Jim and I are not a couple; he’s straight, and lives on a different continent.  We became friends in our last year of high school and studied classics together at university, after which we both went overseas to do our PhDs: me to the US, him to the UK.  He actually just handed in his thesis recently (US PhDs take a lot longer; I still have a couple of years to go), so you could start calling him Dr. Jim the Editor, if you like.  Also, by sheer coincidence (and we only found out about this when he met my parents), Jim’s dad, who is an anaesthesiologist specialising in epidurals, was one of the doctors present when I was born.

Jim the Editor is literally the editor – he proofreads pretty much everything I post here.  This blog was also actually his idea in the first place; we had a lot of friends who used to play Pokémon and thought they might get a kick out of my addled raving about them newfangled gen-V Pokeymans.  I suspect he and I will battle to the death upon the corpse of a fading star at the end of time, when the last words of the gods have faded from memory, but until then, he’s my best friend, and that’s a constant I’m glad to have in my life.

Team Hufflepuff asks:

What are your thoughts on the Harry Potter books/films?

Well, I grew up with the books (I remember Deathly Hallows being released in my last year of high school, and trolling everyone in my Latin class by yelling out “Voldemort is Harry’s father!”), but I haven’t read them in a while.  I think I only saw the first three movies in cinemas, but I’ve watched the rest on my somewhat regular 15-hour trans-Pacific flights to visit my family in New Zealand (I watch a lot of movies on planes).  They’re not super-important to me as, like, formative inspirational building blocks of my developing psyche, but I always enjoyed the books, and they’re part of the general late 90s/early 00s cultural milieu that shaped a lot of people in my age group, same as Pokémon was.

I have taken the Pottermore sorting hat quiz – the definitive quiz, which bears the imprimatur of the Sainted Rowling – a number of times, and have historically been borderline Hufflepuff/Ravenclaw, but my year in Greece may have made me more adventurous and strengthened my convictions, and my most recent result was actually Gryffindor, which was something of a surprise to me.

Intersections with this blog’s normal schtick are of course rare, but you might be interested in an article I wrote shortly after the advent of Pokémon Go, in which I discussed the philosophies of the three competing teams and attempted to link them to (among other things) the values of the Hogwarts houses.

Also, I think that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (the first one; I haven’t seen the second) is a really solid live-action Pokémon movie, and is the standard against which Detective Pikachu should be judged.

VikingBoyBilly asks:

Something’s been on my mind for a long time since I stopped lurking, but I need to say how I feel.

In our long argument about Odysseus, you ended it with “i know what I’m talking about; so there.”

No, you didn’t, because if you did, you wouldn’t have been a misanthrope. Reading mythology is what made me fall in love with humans, and it’s unsettling that you never acknowledged the irony of being a misanthropic archaeologist. The lessons the Oddessey taught me is that life is a journey full challenges and misery, but by keeping your wits and the strength to continue, you can reach your goals. Oddysseus’s goal was to reunite with the wife an son that he loved, and it’s so cynical to think he enjoyed having sex with women that kept him stranded on those islands, and it doesn’t mesh thematically when these are supposed to be a series of hardships. The optimist in me believes this was something to be overcome, either as a temptation like the lotus fruits and sirens, or a situation to get out of like the cyclops. His devotion and loyalty to his crew, his homeland, and family are values I live by, and I don’t like that being tarnished by accusations that he’s a scummy womanizer. I could just be satisfied with my own opinions and not be bothered by what anyone else thinks, but you know what the internet does to us.

I also was put off by your use of the vague buzz-word “western civilization.” It’s nonsensical to anyone with an understanding of geography, and condescending, as if any other civilization doesn’t count (and because I think an archaeologist/anthropologist would only use such a simplification of jargon when talking to a layman). Funny how people angry with the state of the world will defend “western civilization” as the best thing that ever happened.

I hope your outlook of your own species has changed since then, and if you want to reply non-publicly, my email is [REDACTED]

[This is what Billy is referring to – linking to the Tumblr version of the original question-and-answer post rather than the WordPress version because that’s where the relevant comment thread is, but I might actually move it over here for posterity’s sake]

Continue reading “VikingBoyBilly asks:”

N asks:

Did you leave tumblr because they removed the porn?
(But seriously why don’t you like it anymore)

There’s no “anymore” about it; I don’t think I ever really liked Tumblr.  I started using it in the first place back in 2012 because a friend recommended it as (I’m paraphrasing) the hip and happening place to be, but frankly it was never very well-suited to the style of my blog.  Over the course of 2012-2017, it somehow managed to lose functionality and become harder to use every goddamn time the platform was updated.  It’s like the development team were moving backwards in time, starting with a passable, albeit idiosyncratic, blogging platform and gradually breaking or removing every useful capability.  For about a year before I left, I’d had to copy-paste my writing into the post editor via my e-mail inbox because if I tried to do it directly from Microsoft Word, Tumblr would decide to convert the text into an image, for some inane and impenetrable reason of its own.  The final straw for me (early in 2018, some months before the announcement of the pornpocalypse) was when they arbitrarily changed the HTML editor in a way that broke the captions of every single image I’ve ever put in a text post.  WordPress isn’t perfect either: I have to pay for it, I’ll have to pay more if I ever want CSS editing or anything else even remotely interesting, and redoing all the formatting that I lost in the transfer from Tumblr has been (and continues to be) a headache and a half.  The editing process is so much less broken and dumb that it’s frankly comical, though. I no longer feel like I have to fight against a platform that wants to impose a contrary vision of what a “blog” is supposed to be. Also, I have to admit that there’s something appealing and official-sounding about having my own .com domain name.

Adventures in Baking the Entire Athenian Acropolis, part 2

Well, I promised updates, and here’s a short one on the first stage of this ludicrous project. If you follow me on Twitter you’ll already have some inkling of how my style of baking works – you lurch from one disaster to another until enough of them cancel each other out and produce something wondrous. But here’s the more detailed report:

Continue reading “Adventures in Baking the Entire Athenian Acropolis, part 2”

Adventures in baking the entire Athenian Acropolis

Regular readers of this blog may know that, although from New Zealand, I am currently living in the United States, where I am studying for a PhD in classical archaeology. Long-time regular readers may further be aware that I have something of a penchant for baking. And, of course, even the most cursory of readers will be perfectly cognisant of the fact that I am completely insane.

Once a year, these three facets of my life come into glorious conjunction.

Continue reading “Adventures in baking the entire Athenian Acropolis”

No Pokémon review this week, have some democracy and pie instead

I’ve been a little bit swamped lately with teaching; my students have just handed in their first big assignment and taken their first test of the semester (don’t worry; only a few of them will be executed).  I haven’t finished writing my next Pokémon review, Komala, so instead you’re getting a spiel about some of what I’ve been teaching recently, as well as some pictures of my first attempt at something resembling an English-style pork pie. Continue reading “No Pokémon review this week, have some democracy and pie instead”