Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter by Thomas Cahill

I’ve already begun thinking of myself as part-Greek, which is, I know, very ridiculous.  Just because I will live in the country for a year does not mean I have a right to claim their heritage as my own….except that Cahill has written an entire book about how the Western world has been shaped by the Greek worldview for the last two and a half thousand years.  So while I may not be Greek in heritage, I am in spirit.

Cahill divides his chapters into themes that also follow a general chronological pattern.  I found this to be a much easier way to track with the history and culture presented.  He also makes use of a lot of literature, which, as a book nerd, I found especially delightful.  Beginning with Homer’s The Iliad, Cahill describes Greek warriors and their obsession with glory on the battlefield.  We then move on emotions, celebrations, politics, philosophy, art, and religion.  Over and over again, Cahill reminds us just how strongly our present-day culture resembles the ancient Greeks.

I’ve always loved Greek mythology, my high school English class spent some time with Sophocles and Homer, and I took art history classes as electives in college.  I’m a little familiar with a lot of Greek history and thought, but Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea put everything into context.  For instance, the shift in Greek sculptures from rigid idealistic poses of men to the twisting, agonized figures in the famous Laocoon and His Sons came about as the strength of Athens waned, first to Sparta in the Peloponnesian War and then to Rome.

This book hits all of my interests:  art, literature, history, culture, and GREECE.  Perfect.  Continue reading

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StumbleUpon Sunday (17)

StumbleUpon is a great way to lose hours of your life.  Luckily, I braved the Internet vortex so you don’t have to.  This week I found these especially interesting websites:

  1. 15 Things Worth Knowing About Coffee
    For a person who drinks so much coffee, I know surprisingly little about it.  Until I read this funny infographic, anyway!
  2. 25 Genius Hacks That Make Having a Dog So Much Easier
    These are so simple and, like the title boasts, genius!  I especially like the tip to play fetch downhill so your dog will get tired faster.
  3. 15 Amazing Places You Can Tour on Google Maps
    Don’t have the money to travel?  Staring wistfully at your computer screen is the next best thing!  I toured the Coliseum, and it was pretty cool.
  4. The 11 People to Unfollow on Facebook
    Hahahaha, yesssss.
  5. 15 Super Cute Hand-Sized Baby Animals
    Everything is cute when it’s tiny!  They snuck three baby foxes into the list, and I am so okay with that.
  6. 22 of the Most Secluded Hotels in the World
    A traveling introvert’s DREAM.
  7. 3 Leadership Lessons Learned from Jon Stewart
    Good TV host, great leader.
  8. 100 Disposable Cameras Were Given to Homeless People
    This is a really cool art project!
  9. 20 Great Escapes that Will Make You Feel Small
    Beautiful photography.
  10. My DIY Coffee Pot Terrarium
    I don’t usually like Pinterest-y craft projects, but I think this coffee pot terrarium is super cute.

StumbleUpon Sunday (15)

StumbleUpon is a great way to lose hours of your life.  Luckily, I braved the Internet vortex so you don’t have to.  This week I found these especially interesting websites:

  1. 10 Incredible Thrill-Seeking Adventures To Do Around the World
    I will never do any of these because I am a big coward.  Maybe the wing walking.  But only on a dare.
  2. 29 Mind-Blowing Coincidences You Won’t Believe Happened
    I’m naming my son Hugh Williams.
  3. Dog and Lamb
    A boxer frolicked with a lamb, and there are pictures!
  4. What It’s Like to Fly the $23,000 Singapore Airlines Suite Class
    Oh my GOSH this is the most amazing thing I’ve ever read.  Someday when I’m flush with cash I will spoil myself silly on the world’s most expensive flight.  The guy who wrote this has a great sense of humor, too.  I especially loved his horror at sleeping for six hours, or “$6,000 worth of the flight.”
  5. 14 Brilliant Pieces of Literature You Can Read in the Time it Takes to Eat Lunch
    I love this list of bite-sized literature.  It is especially useful for its links to places you can read the story for free.
  6. ‘Real Monsters’ Art – Mental Illnesses as Monsters
    Wow.  These creatures are really beautiful, in a horrible way.  The artist, Toby Allen, does a wonderful job making mental illnesses understandable.
  7. 26 Gifs So Cute You Might Die a Sudden, Tragic Death
    Death by adorable is a good way to go.  (Hint: click on #5 to see a whole video of this tiny orange kitten climbing up to sit on a cameraman’s head. And #11 IS SO CUTE.  Just, all of them.  Look at all of them.)
  8. 12 Interspecies Hugs That Show That Love is Universal
    More cuteness!  I’m especially awed by the lion and the fawn, but there’s also the cat and the owl!  And that last picture of a koala sleeping on a dog’s back is super adorable.
  9. 10 Mnemonic Tricks for Never Forgetting Anything Again
    Super useful!
  10. What Real Beauty Looks Like Around the World
    These photos of diverse women in their 20s are a stunning reminder to embrace your culture and background.

StumbleUpon Sunday (14)

StumbleUpon is a great way to lose hours of your life.  Luckily, I braved the Internet vortex so you don’t have to.  This week I found these especially interesting websites:

  1. 15 Animals That Aren’t Dogs, But Totally Want to be Man’s Best Friend
    This kind of content is exactly what the Internet is for.
  2. Man Walks All Day to Create Massive Snow Patterns
    I love when artists create something beautiful knowing that it will be transient and unseen.
  3. 13 Life-Changing Beauty Hacks Using Vaseline
    “Life-changing” might be strong, but these vaseline-inspired tips are definitely useful!
  4. Maps of War: Middle East
    WOW.  This 90-second video zips through history, showing all the empires and kingdoms who have taken over the Middle East, starting with Egypt and ending with national independence.  Never has this made so much sense.
  5. 18 Spectacular and Bizarre Airbnb Rentals
    Someone give me all the money!  I need to stay in every single one of these.
  6. This Man Found a SECRET Tunnel in His House
    An underground city 18 stories deep!?  With shops, tombs, livestock and individual quarters?  I want that at my house!
  7. 18 Irritatingly Bothersome Movie Plot Holes
    I’m going to try to forget these as quickly as possible, because they are so right.
  8. 17 Diagrams That Will Help You Draw (Almost) Anything
    Some are useful, some are funny.  Like the Internet.
  9. Six Before and After Pictures That Show Why You Should Adopt a Shelter Dog
    RIGHT IN THE HEART.
  10. 23 Super Creative Repurposed Items
    These are so cool!  I want the card catalogue mini bar and globe bowl.  And suitcase chair!

StumbleUpon Sunday (11)

StumbleUpon is a great way to lose hours of your life.  Luckily, I braved the Internet vortex so you don’t have to.  This week I found these especially interesting websites:

  1. Sound Composition: Calm Thunder Storm
    Want to enjoy the soothing sounds of rain and thunder without ruining your hair or soaking your shoes?  This site is all the good without the bad!
  2. Map of Literary Road Trips
    How cool!  Now you can relive the journeys of On the Road or Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance…or just hang this on your wall and look cool.
  3. I Has a Bucket
    HAHA, okay, this has no value apart from restoring some fond college nostalgia.  Maybe it also has historical value, as one of the Internet’s first memes?
  4. 15 Books Every High School Student Should Read
    I haven’t read six of the recommended books, but based upon the nine that I have, I think this list is a great starting place for choosing readable classics.
  5. Architectural Watercolors by Maja Wronska
    Any art that makes me say, “Um, NO,” because I cannot fathom how it is possible deserves a spot on this list.
  6. Famous Television Show Home Floor Plans
    Take this to an architect and you too can live like Monica and Rachel.
  7. Underlined Book Quotes Become Clever Illustrations
    These are beautiful!  I particularly like the drawing for “listen, there’s a hell of a good universe next door, let’s go.”
  8. Some Perfectly Timed Photos – Part II
    Hehehe.  It’s always fun to indulge in some low brow humor.
  9. Halloween Costume Ideas – 50 Pics
    Never hurts to plan ahead…especially if you’re going to create Princess Leia and R2-D2 costumes for little toddlers OMG!
  10. 10 Ways to Up Your Campfire Cooking Game
    Mmmmm!  Lamb Ribs in Balsamic Huckleberry BBQ Sauce?  Yes please!

StumbleUpon Sunday (10)

StumbleUpon is a giant collection of the best pages on the Internet.

StumbleUpon is a great way to lose hours of your life.  Luckily, I braved the Internet vortex so you don’t have to.  This week I found these especially interesting websites:

  1. 9 Photo Composition Tips
    This video quickly gives advice and examples on how to take the best photo possible. I hadn’t heard of #7 before, “Center Dominant Eye.”  A new trick to try!
  2. 16 Incredible Van Gogh Paintings Tilt Shifted
    WOW.  With a simple twist, Van Gogh’s work becomes dynamic and almost life-life.
  3. Beautiful Map Posters of Anywhere
    This is perfect for people who are moving, or who particularly love a place.  I want several!
  4. 19 Animals Photographed Trying Things for the First Time
    OMG so cute.  I love the dog on his first subway ride and the tiny bear trying to climb a tree.
  5. These are the 10 Best U.S. Cities to Relocate To
    Described with cute infographics, I’m proud to see cities in Illinois and Texas on this list…although neither were cities in which I’ve actually lived.
  6. Smile Alarm Clock by Kim Jungwoo
    Hahaha!  An alarm clock that only turns off if its smile sensor thinks your grin is big enough.  This is diabolically brilliant.
  7. Minimalist Posters of Disney Films
    I especially love the one for Peter Pan….but the Bambi poster looks kind of creepy!
  8. World’s Most Beautiful Trees Photography
    Trees!  I love trees!  So many different colors and shapes, and two crazies scaling a 700-foot Sequoia!
  9. An Anthology of Mythical Creatures
    This infographic is super helpful in categorizing the origins of various mythical creatures, from kelpies in Scotland to Japan’s Ittan-momen, “a sentient roll of cotton that flies through the night and suffocates people.”
  10. 23 Animals That Have Totally Mastered the Game of Hide-and-Seek
    One of my favorite things that Rory does is when he hides behind the shower curtain with his tail sticking out.  Idiot animals are delightful!

StumbleUpon Sunday (8)

StumbleUpon is a giant collection of the best pages on the Internet.

StumbleUpon is a great way to lose hours of your life.  Luckily, I braved the Internet vortex so you don’t have to.  This week I found these especially interesting websites:

  1. Down the Rabbit Hole We Go! 300+ Mind Expanding Documentaries
    I’m not nearly as into documentaries as I should be, but this list includes links to view these films for free, so…maybe this is my time!
  2. The 5 Craziest Ways Famous Actors Got Into Character
    This Cracked article is fascinating and hilarious, covering Tom Cruise to Robert De Niro.
  3. Decoding Food Expiration Dates
    Via video or text, this site has a few simple tips and examples on how to know when your perishable foods are spoiled.
  4. Drawing Between the Lines
    Clever drawings of characters escaping their notebook-lined prisons.
  5. Painting Timelapse Collaboration with a Toddler
    I love these videos of toddler scribbles transforming into artwork with the help of a painter’s touch.
  6. You Fell Asleep Watching a DVD
    Hahaha!  This is genius!
  7. The ‘Man Who Flies for Free’ Says These are the 3 Best Websites for Airline Deals
    I bookmarked this so hard….I hope he’s right!
  8. Disney Princesses in Accurate Period Costume
    Sleeping Beauty’s is my favorite.
  9. The 50 Best Kids’ Movies to Watch as a Family
    Self-explanatory and handy!
  10. Perfectly Timed Picture of My Firework
    A week late, but wow!  What a cool picture of a firework’s trail as it leaves the ground.