Toast + Pilgrims + Murder = Candy Corn

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Once upon a time, pilgrims planted rye wheat, harvested it to make bread, ate the bread, went batshit crazy, got pissed off, blamed it on the devil’s minions, and sanctioned the killing of a bunch of innocent people.

Let me back up for a moment.

When rye grain goes bad, it develops a fungus called ergot that causes super nifty LSD-like symptoms such as hallucinations… and a few other exciting symptoms like seizures, necrosis, and lots (lots) of death. Recently historians have been investigating the link between ergotism and severe illness/death starting all the way back in 800 A.D. It wasn’t actually recognized as ergot poisoning until the 1800’s, and when we (being intelligent beings and the only Earth-dwelling animals with the ability to use reason and logic) don’t understand things, we tend to make up a bunch of bullshit to explain the problem away.

Enter the pilgrims. A rather somber group with a penchant for monochrome dress, fire-and-brimstone religion, and treating their darker skinned brethren as subhuman, they were not exactly the most tolerant of people. When a few horrible teenage girls started having seizures and hallucinations and subsequently accused some fellow pilgrims of witchcraft, the village leaders were all, “Meh. Seems legit, let’s go do some murder.” I’m paraphrasing, if I’m being completely honest.

The “witches” of Salem weren’t actually burned at the stake (just hanged or crushed, so nbd) but they were definitely killed for no reason. Or, I guess, the reason being ergot poisoning and bad parenting (because what normal teenage girl’s first response to a seizure is to condemn her neighbor to death… well, given teenagers, maybe that’s not so far-fetched). The Salem Witch Trials also weren’t the direct cause of All Hallow’s Eve, which later became Halloween, the one day of the year where we get to dress up as sluts and/or monsters, purposefully take candy from strangers, and carve faces on vegetables. But they did contribute to the history of America’s relationship with stereotyping, extremist religion, jumping to conclusions, and Snicker’s Bars.

Great, now I have a craving for toast.

happy pumpkinAhhh this picture make complete sense to me now!

Lost in Paris: Van Helsing, Creepy Sex, and Go Go Dancers

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When I was 18, I took all of the money I had saved since I was 12 (yeah, I was the girl who kept all her money in a shoebox instead of spending it on clothes or candy or Tomogachis like a normal kid) and bought a plane ticket to Paris. Along with two friends, we packed a few changes of clothes and 3oz plane-admissible toiletries (because otherwise Al Qaeda wins) into big hiking backpacks. It was my first time out of the US of A and we were gonna do this vagabond style.

Four days into our six week European adventure, the three of us were cold, slightly hungry, dirty, and homesick. To get our minds off this we decided to go watch Hugh Jackman play Van Helsing (and Kate Beckinsale inexplicably butcher a made-up Transylvanian accent, but I still love her and she was wearing a leather corset the whole movie so it’s all good), which had just come out in theaters. In the lobby, where you inexplicably stand and wait for your show to start, I noticed a middle-aged man watching us. When he saw me looking, he came over and introduced himself as Will. Within five minutes we had learned that Will was in Paris for a writers convention, was married to a super wealthy man, was lonely, and had been eating amazing food at expensive restaurants. He sat with us through the movie and invited to take us out to dinner the following night.

Even at the time my friends and I thought it was weird that he would take out three dirty, disheveled teenagers, but we had to weigh that against eating 4star cuisine. Food won out, obviously. Will took us to some weird Americanized  restaurant (which said a lot about how the French see us) and ordered us three course meals and fancy drinks. Between eating and hassling the waitress about her looks (he thought she was transgendered for no apparent reason), Will told us about his writing convention. They had just had a contest for who could write the best sex scene. Will proudly declared he had won this contest, and proceeded to give us a graphic description. I’ll spare you the majority of the details, but basically he wrote a scene in which two men have sex and at the moment of, umm, completion one man slits the other’s throat and bathes in his blood. At this time the three of us gave each other significant looks that roughly translated to, “Should we run? He’ll make lampshades out of our skin. Nah, it’s ok, there are three of us, we can take him if we need to. Let’s enjoy the free food.”

After dinner Will decided we would all go clubbing; he took us to Banana, a seedy gay bar with a basement made out of a cave. I’m not even making this up. After some dancing, my friend Althea and I sat down to have drinks. At this point some men jumped onto the stripper poles placed seemingly at random throughout the bar, and the audience helped them to get butt ass nekked. I politely averted my eyes and tried to concentrate on my drink… until my chair was abruptly pulled out from the table and a fully nude man began to give me a lap dance.

I’m not saying women can’t enjoy lap dances, or that men shouldn’t give them. I am saying that I, for one, lack the equipment and desire necessary to make it a great experience. This was compounded by the fact that my dancer, being as he was completed naked and gay, was also clearly not getting anything out of the experience. You might ask yourself why he was giving me a lap dance in the first place; sadly I have no answer for that.

Once the guy was done grinding his bare ass on my sweatpant-clad legs, Will came over with a wad of money and proceeded to negotiate a second lap dance for me. I told him I was all set, that he should have the dance if he was into it, and that I would rather spend that wad of money on much, much stronger drinks. Like, immediately. My pleas were to no avail and the next thing I knew my chair was once again pulled forcefully into the center of the bar and the same very naked, very unsexy ass plopped into my lap.

Will watched the show and when it was over said to us, “Well, it’s been fun. See ya!” and took off. He left us in the club in a part of Paris we didn’t know at 3am when the Metro had long ago shut down. Luckily for everyone, Althea has a homing beacon in her brain and managed to guide us back to our hostel in under an hour by picking a seemingly random direction to walk. I crawled gratefully into my sleeping bag and fell asleep to the sound of my friends laughing hysterically at my unfortunate naked Parisian adventure.

Film Title: Van Helsing. I love you, Kate Beckinsale, don’t ever change!