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Monthly Archives: December 2013

Ishtar: The Ultimate Crazy Ex-girlfriend

I’m sure all of you out there are avid fans of ancient Mesopotamian mythology and that you probably rereadĀ Epic of Gilgamesh on a regular basis. But in case you aren’t, this blog post will serve as a nice little introduction to one of the members of ancient Babylonian pantheon. She’s the goddess of love, fertility, and sex. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Ishtar.

ishtar

I don’t actually have an explanation for her feet…

One of the most popular myths about Ishtar is the story of the descent into the underworld. According to the perverted rules of the underworld, Ishtar could enter but she had to shed one article of clothing at each of the seven gates.

Of course, by the time she made it to the bottom, she was completely nude. This enraged her, which makes sense since she is the goddess of love and normally portrayed naked. Ishtar was so enraged that she threw a fit and got herself locked in the lowest layer of the underworld as punishment.

This proves a little problematic since all love on earth ceases as a result of her imprisonment. Since that’s clearly not going to fly, Ishtar is released on the condition that somebody else stay in her place. The unfortunate task falls on her lover Tammuz, who takes Ishtar’s place in the underworld.

Ishtar shows up again inĀ The Epic of Gilgamesh in which she tries to kindle a flame with Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh was like, “Heck no! All your other boyfriends ended up dead! Like that bird guy whose wing you broke, or that shepherd you turned into a wolf.”

None too happy with Gilgamesh’s refusal, Ishtar asks her father if she can borrow the Bull of Heaven to send after Gilgamesh. Her father told her she was overreacting, so she threatened to tear open the gates of the underworld and cause mass havoc by allowing the souls of the dead to mingle with the living. And that’s how Ishtar was given access to the Bull of Heaven.

The Bull of Heaven goes rampaging amok (can you rampage amok, or can you only run amok?) through the city of Uruk. But never fear because Gilgamesh and his bestfriend/bromantic partner Enkidu are total studs and they manage to kill the Bull of Heaven.

Ishtar is peeved (as per her usual) and stands on the city wall cursing Gilgamesh. Enkidu in a fit of rage tears off the hind quarters of the Bull of Heaven and flings the piece of bull corpse at Ishtar, yelling that he would take her down like the Bull of Heaven if he could.

Yeah. Enkidu didn’t survive that insult.

And all of the further exploits of Gilgamesh just aren’t as cool without Enkidu, even though there’s a giant serpent and this guy named Utnapishtim. So I guess Ishtar gets the last word after all.

Conclusion? Ishtar makes Carrie Underwood trashing your car look like child’s play.

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Kids Need to Read. So do Adults. 15 Reasons

So I normally don’t do more than one serious post in a row, but this is something I feel very strongly about. My friends (okay, so Meghan is my friend. The rest of them just seem cool so I like to pretend we’re friends. Like I do with Captain America) the YA WordNerds are promoting a charity called Kids Need to Read. You can check out their video here:

I’m a huge proponent of kids (and adults) reading not only because I’m an avid reader myself, but also because I wrote an undergraduate thesis on the importance of pleasure reading. I won’t bore you with the whole academic paper, but here’s some bullet point quick reasons.

  1. Kids who read find reassurance in characters who have similar struggles.
  2. Reading improves analytical skills.
  3. Kids who read are better readers (go figure).
  4. People who read are more likely to engage in volunteer work.
  5. People who read as kids are more likely to read as adults.
  6. Reading improves writing skills.
  7. Books can provide an escape and allow readers to de-stress.
  8. Avid readers are more likely to engage in cultural events like going to museums or attending concerts.
  9. Books introduce kids to a variety of factoids. They increase cultural capital.
  10. Reading often serves as a cautionary tale.
  11. Avid readers are more likely to vote.
  12. Reading allows people to make empathetic connections and increases sensitivity.
  13. Kids who read have stronger vocabularies.
  14. Employers say they need more employees with the reading and writing skills that can be obtained from pleasure reading.
  15. Avid readers are more likely to have financially rewarding jobs. Those who don’t read at all are much more likely to be jobless.

That’s really just the surface of my research. I hope that you take time to check out the Kids Need to Read page. And try and pick up a book this holiday season. If you’ve read something you like, pass it on to a friend. You’ll be doing them a favor.