Ancient Rome: The Colosseum and the Forum

Panorama of the Colosseum.

The Ancient Romans and their Greek forebears laid the foundation for the Western World to such an extent that I feel a bit silly blogging about ideas and images as immutable as the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. What can I say that hasn’t already been said by greater men than me?

Our second day in Rome was dedicated to the glory days of the Republic and the Empire. From the main Termini station right by our hostel, we took the Rome Metro two stops to the Colosseum station. Emerging from an underground train still reverberating with the rich sounds of a street musician’s saxophone, we spilled out into the crisp city air with the huge amphitheater standing just across the street.

Despite a slight chill and clouds (which later lifted to herald a bluebird day), visiting the Colosseum in December is an excellent time: While there were still quite a few people there, it was empty compared to the deluge of tourists during my last visit in summer 2005.

Amanda and I in front of the Colosseum.

Amanda and I in front of the Colosseum.

Most people know Read More…

Our Roman Holiday

Rather than try to write about events from a few months ago, I will start this blog with Amanda and my Christmas travels. Amanda has already posted about our journey from Billings to D.C. and our first few weeks in Oxford.

We spent 11 days in Italy and 17 in Germany. Italy was a whirlwind of more touristy travel: Our itinerary included Rome, Naples, Pompeii, Florence, Bologna, and Venice. Germany was much more relaxed because we were traveling with Paul and Alice, two of our good friends who are there on Fulbright scholarships.

On the evening of December 11, we flew from London to Rome. From the Fiumicino Airport, we took a Terravision bus to Roma Termini, the main railway station in Rome, with trains, buses, and the subway all intersecting a few mildly seedy blocks from our hostel.

The next morning, we were up early to head to the Vatican Museum. We had reserved tickets online beforehand, so we were able to jump the queue (something I highly recommend doing, even though it costs an extra few dollars).

Amanda just inside the Vatican Museum.

Amanda just inside the Vatican Museum.

After passing through the entrance, we headed through fantastic exhibits on Ancient Egypt; Greek and Roman statues; the oddly interesting Sala degli Animali (Room of Animals); and displays on the Etruscans, the most important pre-Roman Italian civilization.

Funerary mask of Nymaatra.

Funerary mask of Nymaatra.

Etruscan pottery.

Etruscan pottery.

Amanda and

Amanda and Juno.

Read More…

Can I Pay for that Whiskey with Dark Money?

Fly rod and whiskey flask — the perfect Montana combination. Photo courtesy Bozeman Spirits Distillery

Fly rod and whiskey flask — the perfect Montana combination. Photo courtesy Bozeman Spirits Distillery

By Brent Zundel
For the Bozeman Magpie
August 25, 2013

Author’s Note: This article originally appeared in the Bozeman Magpie. Mr. Art Wittich did not respond to multiple requests for comment until after this piece was published. The piece below has been updated to reflect his statements.

A lawsuit that was filed against the City of Bozeman in June could have wide-ranging impacts on Montana’s burgeoning distillery industry. The law firm of Montana Senate Majority Leader Art Wittich, R-Bozeman, is leading a suit against the City of Bozeman for allowing a new microdistillery to open its doors in Bozeman’s historic downtown.

In May, the Bozeman City Commission approved a conditional use permit that would allow Bozeman Spirits Distillery and Tasting Room to open at 121 West Main Street, the property previously occupied by Schnee’s, a footwear and outdoor clothing retailer. That would put the new distillery within Bozeman’s historic downtown, right next door to the landmark Baxter Hotel. Jim R. Harris, III, is the would-be proprietor of Bozeman Spirits, a man who’s lived in Bozeman for over two decades and helped co-found the popular Outside Bozeman magazine.

Brit Fontenot, Bozeman’s Directory of Economic Development, welcomed the potential addition of a microdistillery to downtown. Read More…

Educating Montana’s Sons and Daughters

Photo by Kate Juedes, MSU Exponent

Photo by Kate Juedes, MSU Exponent

By Brent Zundel
For the MSU Exponent
April 25, 2013

He just deferred a position with Teach For America (TFA) to accept an English teaching position in Germany with the Fulbright Program. His new fiancé is going to Germany with him — on a Fulbright of her own. They both graduated with high honors from the University of Montana in fall 2012.

By all accounts, Paul Asleson and Alice Krebill are exactly the type of people our state needs: intelligent, driven, successful and passionate about educating future generations. Read More…

MSU Confessions: Internet Hate Machine or Community Forum?

The MSU Confessions Facebook page. Photo by Brent Zundel

The MSU Confessions Facebook page. Photo by Brent Zundel

By Pat Hessman and Brent Zundel
For the MSU Exponent
April 18, 2013

“Gotta love being a little drunk in class. So much more willing to answer questions.”

“I don’t get it, all these girls are like I just want a cowboy, but when I ride the electronic horse in the Walmart for an hour none of them come and hit on me.”

“i wish i knew anyone else my age here at MSU who has cancer too, it’s often really lonely having no one to relate to when you’re hurting.”

That was a sampling of posts on the Facebook page Montana State University Confessions (MSUC.) Read More…

A Beer Drinker’s Manifesto

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Author Brent Zundel

By Brent Zundel
For the MSU Exponent
April 18, 2013

An old aphorism claims beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. And when one adds to Montana’s world-class beer offerings the breathtaking diversity of our landscape, from the eastern prairies to the western mountains, one could be forgiven for believing that Providence has especially favored our state.

If the state legislature maintains its sometimes wavering support of our homegrown microbreweries, Montana will be well on its way to establishing itself as the Napa Valley of beer within a few short years. Boasting the second most breweries per capita in the nation, we already have 38 breweries — with nearly 10 more in the works — that are adding value to the agricultural products that comprise the backbone of the state’s industry. Read More…

Montana GOP Outlines Strategy during Weeklong Retreat in Mordor

By Brent Zundel and Pat Hessman
For the MSU Exponent
April 11, 2013

Note: This column originally appeared as part of the Exponent’s Sugarbeet page, a satirical biweekly feature that attempts to stimulate discussion of critical community issues.

Members of the Montana GOP outline their strategy during a recent weeklong retreat in Mordor. Illustration by Pat Hessman, MSU Exponent

Members of the Montana GOP outline their strategy during a recent weeklong retreat in Mordor. Illustration by Pat Hessman, MSU Exponent

The Dark Lord Sauron’s index finger was conspicuously bare as he stabbed at a Billings Gazette article about Gov. Steve Bullock’s plan to fight dark money in Montana politics.

“What do we need to do to better spread our cold grip across the state?” he bellowed as the savage roar of Republican legislators rose all around him. His thunderous words were well-received, with those in attendance firing assault rifles into the air, beating their foreheads with Bibles and knocking back shot after shot of Roughstock Montana Whiskey.

Speaking from behind the Black Gate, the Dark Lord led Republican legislators during their annual strategy retreat in Mordor. Throughout the weeklong event, Republicans from across the state looked at ways to move their party forward into the 19th century, from resisting any federal attempts to enforce gun control to fighting for lower taxes. Read More…

The Case for Ending Coal

A coal mine in the Powder River Basin. Photo courtesty itsgettinghotinhere.org

A coal mine in the Powder River Basin. Photo courtesty itsgettinghotinhere.org

By Brent Zundel
For the MSU Exponent
April 11, 2013

For generations, American Indians considered the arid rolling hills in the Powder River Basin sacred. From time to time, the ground would naturally catch fire, spewing smoke into the air.

The ground itself didn’t really catch fire, of course; rather, the coal locked up in it did. Today, that land is still sacred, though to a vastly different demographic. Read More…

Wine Not: Que Syrah, Syrah

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Author Brent Zundel

By Brent Zundel
For the MSU Exponent
April 4, 2013

This week, leave your beer mug on the shelf and dust off your long-stemmed glasses for a toast to Dionysus. We’re talking wine.

Wine production, or vinification, dates back to at least 6,000 BC, although different regions developed it at different times. While Montanans are becoming more and more familiar with craft beer, any wine fancier than Franzia still intimidates many college students. Read More…

Excrement News Briefs

By Brent Zundel
For the MSU Exponent
March 28, 2013

Note: These satirical news briefs originally appeared as part of the Exponent’s annual April Fools’ Day edition, the Excrement.

Financial Aid employee friendly, too friendly

According to witnesses in the student union building, last week a Financial Aid employee was acting “friendly … too friendly.” One jaded sophomore spoke to the Exponent on condition of anonymity, citing fears that Financial Aid would insert “even more” errors into her fall 2013 statement if they learned her identity.

According to the source, she still has no idea what the hell was behind the crocodile smile of the employee who helped her. “It just gave me the heebie-jeebies,” she said.

She left crestfallen after learning that the employee could do nothing to help her unless she returned five separate forms, written in iambic pentameter and relayed to the office in both song and written form.

“And then that son of a bitch smiled at me and asked if there was anything else he could help me with,” the unidentified sophomore said. “Yeah, finally he told me to ‘have a good day,’ so I told him to fuck off.”

Hope in engineering students’ eyes just too much for professor to bear

After spending the week meeting individually with each member of his graduating civil engineering senior design class, Prof. Sven Kjell just couldn’t take it anymore. “The glimmer of hope in their eyes was just too much for me to bear,” Kjell said. Read More…