Inferno, cannibalism, Taylor Swift, public employee pensions

Detail of "Ugoilno and Archbishop Ruggieri" by Gustave Doré (yes, I have this book).

Two recent dreams the same night. I hope they were separate dreams.

1.) Two men laying on the ground, caked in blood, one gnawing off the ear of the other person who lies passive and closes his eyes every few seconds yielding or savoring getting devoured. Reminiscent of (I had the visual but had to look this up) Ugolino perpetually gnawing on the skull of his nemesis Archbishop Ruggieri in Dante's Inferno (XXXII, 128-9).

2.) I duck out of a music show in a dignified theater with my dream-logic friend Taylor Swift. We get to the lobby, after a quick commiseration how BORING that show is, Swift starts peppering me with questions about how the public employee pension system works in California. I explain California is not my state, but I can send some info along. We decide a direct message via Twitter will be the best way to convey those links so she'll see them.

Snort if you want, as if YOU have never had a dream about perpetual cannibalism and chatting economics with Taylor Swift.

 (Left) Ugolino snacking on Archbiship Ruggieri, illustration by Barry Moser. (Right) Taylor Swift.

(Left) Ugolino snacking on Archbiship Ruggieri, illustration by Barry Moser. (Right) Taylor Swift.

Red Lion over-catering to gays?

Red Lion has this ad directed at same-sex couples. "We look forward to playing an important part of your life and future." Sweet!

"Let's make history together." Very nice. We've all been in that spot, asking ourselves or our group of revolutionaries: "How're we gonna get some justice up in here?" The answer, always, is to call the Red Lion. When thinking of the front lines of civil rights, Red Lion is always there, picket signs and bullhorns blaring. Look in photos in history books - from the American Revolution to Selma to Occupy Wall Street you will always find Red Lion, po-faced and glorious mane flowing, pushing for social justice.

This ad is in a Portland alternative newspaper, Willamette Week. Sadly, our bigoted state of Oregon bans same-sex marriage. Washington doesn't, and its city Vancouver just over the Columbia River has a Red Lion staring back at us, a sentinel with its new open mindedness and legal pot. The Red Lion in Portland, literally across the river along the same longitude, looks northward in meek shame, knowing its state is on the wrong side of history.

All demographics deserve the right to be pandered to. But this line made me wince: "We offer on-site event specialists, group room rates and tasteful culinary experiences."

Red Lion as a destination for fussy foodies? Doubtful. As a privileged, white, probably straight male (I'll probably never know for sure - men are fucking boring and I lack the physical courage required of normal homosexual acts. How those fellas endure it is a marvel) I feel this ad somehow implies MY group doesn't give a shit about tasteful food or event details.

We don't, but STILL having that coarse stereotype shoved right into my face is darned offensive. I'm taking my rage to a Del Taco where I shall dine without using a napkin!

Brilliant

"Brilliant" has long been the British equivalent of our saying "awesome" or "tubular" in the 80s. So used for inanities, used to mock such inanities, then used in defiance of such mockery it has become a space filler in British pop culture.

When it's used in the U.S. as a weird cultural sophisticate affectation, as I've heard it twice at lunch during a business conversation between strangers today, it buries the usefulness of the word for maybe half a generation. Gag me with a spoon.

Christy Turlington and me.

Born the same year, supermodel Christy Turlington and I share a certain kinship. We're often mistaken for each other in public or at parties (I know, Christy. Hilarious, right?) but she lets me know she's a few months wiser than me. Alla time.

Saw this magazine ad with the tagline "Her heart. Her soul. Her beauty. Her scent." Thought it needed a few more lines.

Her heart. Her soul. Her beauty. Her scent.
She strolled. She sprinted. She stopped. She went:
"You gambol, you laugh, you eat, you write."
I thought. I smirked. I held her. "That's right."

I'll take care of it for you.

Ate lunch at Burgerville, reading 'Vamps and Tramps: New Essays' by Camille Paglia for the third time since 1994. So, the essays aren't that "New", but I like reading about pop culture and harangues against the political correctness of 90s-era academe.

Order was brought to my table by a tall beefy guy with great self-assurance. He had a serious look in his eye. As he set the tray down he said: "If you need anything more from here you let me know and I'll take care of it for you." No irony. This was a point of honor for him. Felt like being in a mobster movie but without the racial caricatures.

The meal was tasty, and made even more satisfying knowing that if I wanted a sportscar or someone snuffed out, it could happen.

Greasy Palins, with a side of gay-bashing.

Sarah Palin posted a goofy photo endorsing Chick-Fil-A on her Facebook Page. After joking with friends, a buddy suggested putting a caption idea I had on the photo. Voilà! Adapting Palin's photo seems ripe for widespread meme-dom. It is obnoxious, and deserves all the internet battery it gets!

Side note: I've hardly ever been to Chick-Fil-A. There aren't many nearby, and the one I know of is in a shopping mall. I pretty much am only in shopping malls on weekends, and Chick-Fil-A is famously closed on Sundays (kinda respect that, heathen that I am). So, it long seemed elusive and unattainable. Guess it will be a while longer before I ever eat there. Like, after a head injury.

"Too soon" for cannibal humor?

Grim information below in the museum at the Donner Memorial Park in California (a lovely place with a nice lake, paths, impressive scenery with high hills above). Yet the location largely comemorates the famous Donner Party travelers who were stranded en route to California and had to eat about half of the people. I mean eat ALL of half of the people, not eat half of each person. Tidbit: the relatively wealthy Donner family was largely spared, most of the people eaten were poorer and/or servants.

The typo (or was it intentional?) that "Feuds and internal disagreements lowered their moral and further slowed the pace."

Took a series of cannibal-related photos with the family around the site. Am guessing we are not the first to do so. Locals are probably tired of cannibal humor to the point where it no longer has any, well, bite to it. A rich and nutritious source of amusement for us tourists, though.

Cannibals in Polynesia refer to human flesh as "long pig". Recommend white wine, then.

When chocolate leapt to attack, and I wanted more.

Veronica's Dad: Will someone tell me why I smoke these damn things?
Veronica Sawyer: Because you're an idiot.
Veronica's Dad: Oh yeah, that's it.
Heathers, 1988

For about the last month, I've become fond (won't say addicted, can quit at any time) to this tasty offensive chocolate with chipotle, salt, and popping candy inside.

"Offensive" not as in violating sensibilites, offensive in that it once attacked me.

The other chocolates I've tried by Chuao Chocolatier have been so-so (no revenue for me if you click the link). Chuao Chocolatier is from - from the fancy name, did you guess Quebec or someplace in Europeland? Mais non! - San Diego, Cali-forn-i-a!

While chocolatier may be an apt phrase, to me, burgeoning curmudgeon, it connotes someone who takes him/herself a bit too seriously. Say, if it's a dude, someone who grew an ironic mustache then began to cherish it on its own, then began to conduct himself in an affected old-timey-time manner.

This dark chocolate is a tad bitter, the chiles give it a sassy meanness, but the popping candy gives it drama. The candy within is a little like Pop Rocks, but with its Fruity Pebbles DNA taken out. It pops. It crackles. It snaps. (Disordered the tag line from Rice Krispies to disconcert you. I am an agent of chaos.)

I'm pretty sure it releases gas inside the pouch.

Taking a sealed blue pouch from car to a room, or room to the car, the pouch poofs out. It also poofs if kept in a room for a while. While opening it in such a state, it doesn't sigh so much as gasp. Or maybe it's a wheeze.

Like with most good chocolate, it's meh if you eat it fast. This one really rewards a slow dissolve. A bit of sizzling as the fizzy kernels work their magic.

One time I opened a pouch and a little kernel cracked its way free and hit me on the face, bouncing off my right cheek then falling unconscious to the floor.

This candy's sentience makes it even more appealing. Entire tribes of creatures dissolving and sliding down into my gullet.

"Get into my belly, ye kernels, and despair!"

Valentine's Day new-timey sweetness

In ancient Rome during middle February they feasted quite deeply during pagan Lupercalia. To slit the throats of a dog and a goat then eat them would cure what ailed ya.

Then ladies'd stand naked in line, and while blitzed on wine the fellas all'd hit them.

Later on ladies' names were drawn by men in a game to determine who later would schtup 'em.

Couples might bond, other times not gel, in either case they'd end up sticky.

While rollicking and violent, horrid and wrong, somehow that all ended as this edible Mickey.

The Valentine's cookie was sweet, decorated neat, and blended to smooth consistency.

Eating it made me sluggish and slow, hardly rarin' to go, and in the wild my rivals would pass me.

Would I end up behind down the Lupercalian line slapping laggard asses that didn't quite suit me?

I'd probably stay back, plan a selective attack based on hair, guessed-at smarts, self-esteem.

Or would I have thought "Sod it all. Ave, Venus!" and hope my card would lead to love at first sight?

All this mulling now and then while with a ravenous grin I chomped down on this corporate copyright.