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Humans of Oxford: Josh Anzalone: Josh of all trades

Ryan Terhune
Ryan Terhune

By Ceili Doyle, Staff Writer

As a botany and classical languages double major, Josh Anzalone's specialties and green thumb have culminated in rather unique research.

However, Josh often finds he gets more looks of bemusement and concern whenever he mentions his side hobby.

In his free time, Josh entertains his family and friends by spinning fire. He has even been hired for small parties and gatherings through word of mouth.

Josh studied fire spinning through a friend of a friend for over a year before he was able to light the wicks, which are attached to chains that allow for flexibility while fire-breathing and fire-eating.

"We have a saying: It's not if you're going to get burned. It's when," Josh said with a grin, sporting his trademark tritium necklace. The necklace contains a glass vial coated in phosphor that causes it to glow for 12 years as a form of harmless beta radiation.

Photo by James Steinbauer | The Miami Student
(Heather McCowan - The Miami Student)

Josh also practices martial arts, which helps him improve his form and the various complex movements that are required for fire spinning.

His friends and family were initially concerned about the potentially dangerous hobby, but after a few years of successful spinning, Josh has mostly quelled their fears.

His career goals are a little less explosive and more geared toward getting his Ph.D. and potentially teaching and researching more into the field of botany.

Growing up in southeastern Ohio near Hocking Hills, Josh was often surrounded by nature. He and his family maintained their own garden, and that was what initially sparked his interest in botany.

Today, inside Josh's apartment bedroom, he is growing an extremely rare healing herb called the Dittany of Crete. In nature, the plant can only be found on the mountains of the small Grecian island of Crete.

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"There's oregano for eating and the Dittany of Crete for [calming] stomach aches," Josh said. "So I don't have to buy Tylenol."

His friends liken Josh's bedroom to an apothecary. They jokingly call Josh an 'amateur exorcist' because his studies in ancient Greek and Latin often dovetail into him doing homework with three spellbooks sprawled across the table.

While he has yet to summon the devil out of any dorms or apartments around campus, Josh's most recent foray into his studies in classical languages had him reading "The Transition from Ancient Magic to Prayer."

And during his few study breaks, Josh makes homemade bread, a dish for which he recently perfected his own recipe.