McSweeney's channels Lovecraft—at Olive Garden:
A homogeneity characterized its flaxen cast. Bubbling sacks of slime upon a platter scorching. Beware! Doused in the pureed remains of a dozen orbic fruits, I feel my breath quicken and hands tremble as I pen its likeness as well as I might. My own mind conspires against me when presented with this frightful entrée. To dine? Or will my own visage mirror its sickly jaundice? I have touched with too much haste the vessel of Hades, a burn be my meal.
The Tour of Italy
A terse presentation of memories, three to be precise. A chicken, but unclucking. A plate of worms, wriggling in saucy terror. And then, horror unbounded, a cube of entombed layers coated in a crimson, comestible smear. Dreams fleeting and reborn, of monoliths—Pisa—floating mid-air and dripping gruel. A gurgling voice emerged from the deep, a chaos that did not speak a mortal tongue, a promise emitted: “Unlimahtated brrrrurdstihks!”
Meanwhile, over at the New Yorker, Dennard Dayle imagines a letter straight out of The Dark Forest:
Congratulations! If you’re reading this, you’ve successfully contacted alien life. It’s not a dream—unimpeded by fear, you’ve accomplished what countless generations couldn’t. Impressive, considering fear’s role in survival. One could even say that you’ve achieved what they wouldn’t.
Take a bow. A hundred years from now, there will be a holiday named for you, observed across a changed galaxy: a day commemorating the moxie, intellect, and sheer luck needed to contact another world while knowing nothing about it.
You must wonder what comes next. After all, your imagination made this possible. Will there be media training? Your own office in low orbit? A well-deserved vacation? The answer is simple:
I mean, they're not wrong...
I mentioned that I went to Ribfest Chicago this past weekend. In years past I have reviewed the vendors and posted photos, but I didn't this year. Simply put, the fest hasn't recovered from Covid.
Two things especially disappointed me: first, the festival of ribs had only 5 dedicated rib vendors, not the 15-20 of years past. Wrigley BBQ closed during the pandemic; Fireside, Piggery, Q, and Smoke Daddy didn't bother to come; and Smoque, one of the best rib places in the city, has never bothered because with their Bib Gourmand rating why should they?
Second, all the vendors had serious quality or service issues. For example, from the first time I wrote about Ribfest in 2011, I've put Mrs Murphy's near the top of my list. On Sunday, though, I got a tray of goo from them. They had ladled on so much sauce that I had to scrape most of it away from the three tiny bones they'd given me, but the bones had spent so long under boil that "fall of the bone" became more "disintegrate off the bone." Another vendor had exhausted children of 10 manning the cash registers, and failing in ways you'd expect. (At the best of times 10-year-olds don't multitask well; at a busy food booth they handled each order to completion, including waiting for food, before taking the next order.)
Two vendors had lines a block long on Friday evening. On Sunday afternoon, one of them had no line—because they'd run out of ribs and it would take another 90 minutes for them to cook more. The other one, returning itinerant Austin Texas Lightning, still had a block-long queue, which upon investigation seemed to have more to do with the booth being woefully understaffed than anything else.
I hope next year they do better, or at least have more vendors.
I tried three rib samplers yesterday, and I'll probably try a couple more tomorrow. Today I had a ton of errands to run and I didn't feel like eating ribs in the rain.
Full report with photos (probably) tomorrow.
If Cassie could (a) speak English and (b) understand the concept of "future" she would be quivering with anticipation about going to Ribfest tonight after school. Since she can't anticipate it, I'll do double-duty and drool on her behalf. It helps that the weather today looks perfect: sunny, not too hot, with a strong chance of delicious pork ribs.
Meanwhile, I have a few things to read on my commute that I didn't get to yesterday:
Finally, as I ride on the UP-N commuter line in an hour or so, I can imagine what it will be like when the train gets a battery-powered locomotive in a few years.
More photos from last weekend. I mentioned The Samuel Palmer in Shoreham, Kent, where I stopped after my hike through the Kentish Downs. I didn't mention that I had a delightful cheese plate for dinner, because cheese:
Then I got to experience four Chicago blocks' worth of an English country road at 10:30pm getting to the railway station:
On Saturday, I walked along the Regent's Canal on my way to the Southampton Arms:
Which remains, as ever, one of my favorite pubs in the world:
I will return to all of these places in due course.
I did enjoy the barbecue:
That's a bit of brisket and accoutrements from Stiles Switch BBQ, and it was so good. We also got some from Black's BBQ, which might have actually been better. Of course, even if I ever go back to Austin, I'll have to try one of the other 42,167 BBQ places.
I also stopped by the Home for Developmentally-Disabled Adults and their Democratic Caretakers:
About three meters to my right, which I chose not to photograph, was a giant monument to "The Horrible Men Who Murdered for Slavery," which got mistranslated into "The Brave Men Who Died for States' Rights" by the Texas Lege when they erected it in the 1890s.
Once I got home and collected her from boarding, it took Cassie about ten minutes before she just passed out. This is a happy dog:
I mean, when in Rome, right? My company offered four options for this afternoon. I didn't even need to read past "BBQ and Brewery Tour" to sign up. Totally worth it! I'll have more to say over the weekend when I have more time to say it, but I do like Texas BBQ, and the two beers I had were quite good.
Home tomorrow, just in time for our own heat wave. Yay.
Today I learned about the Zoot Suit Riots that began 79 years ago today in Los Angeles. Wow, humans suck.
In other revelations:
Finally, it's 22°C and sunny outside, which mitigates against me staying in my office much longer...
Because it's the first day of summer, I'm only posting fun things right now. First, I'd like to thank Uncle Roger for upping my egg fried rice game. Here's my lunch from earlier today. Fuiyoooh!
Around the time I made this delicious and nutritious lunch, a friend who teaches music in a local elementary school sent me a photo of the family of ducks she escorted from one side of the school to the other:
In other good news:
- Believe it or not, today is the 55th anniversary of Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. I remember the day in 1987 when it really was "20 years ago today." People born on that day are now old enough to be president. Yeek.
- Chicago's heavy-rail system, Metra, will start offering unlimited system-wide monthly passes for $100 at the end of this month. Unless you live on the Rock Island or Metra Electric lines. Hiyaaah!
And...well, that's it for good news. Check back later when I have regular, horrifying news.
Authorities in Florida have charged a bride and her caterer with food tampering and the delivery of marijuana, both felonies, after they laced olive oil at the wedding reception with THC:
Investigators estimated about 50 people attended the wedding reception. None of the guests interviewed said they knew there would be marijuana in the food.
Now, Danya Svoboda and the wedding caterer, Joycelyn Bryant, have been charged with food tampering and the delivery of marijuana, both felonies, as well as negligence, a misdemeanor.
All of the accounts in court documents detailing the Svobodas’ wedding reception came from adults who had various levels of experience with the drug. In Florida, medical marijuana is legal, but recreational use remains prohibited.
[One guest] told deputies she remembered seeing Bryant, the caterer, putting food out. She recalled seeing Bryant pull out a “green substance” from a bowl and place it into small dishes that were then filled with olive oil, the affidavit states. With the mixture of pepper, it didn’t taste like marijuana, she said, and the green substance in the dishes may well have been “Italian herbs,” she told deputies.
Wow. Do not drug your wedding guests, no matter how much they deserve it.