We finally got back from our 2 weeks in Portugal. We had an excellent time but I am still catching up on sleep. We spent time in Lisboa, Sintra, Ericerea, Evaro, Coimbra and Porto — not enough time in any one place, but we only had two weeks. There was so much to do, but I think my favorite thing was visiting Quinta da Regaleira in Sintra. All of Portugal is great — the people are great, the food is great, and there is a castle on every hill and a fantastic looking church down every narrow, crooked street, but the Quinta Da Regularia was really weird and fun.
The Quinta was built in the early 1900s by some millionaires with all sorts of strange ideas about alchemy, the masons, astrology and I don’t know what else. They were also probably pretty devout Catholics since they built a really fancy chapel on the property. The property is fairly large and wooded, but filled with small paths, gardens, caves, grottoes, amphitheaters, etc. I get the impression that the place was constructed as a ‘symbolic artwork’ that you were supposed to walk through, by passing through certain passages and tunnels, you were suppose to symbolize the transmutation of lead into gold via alchemy (or something like that). There were tunnels and grottoes everywhere, and a really elaborate ‘palace’ house, extensive gardens and even some secret stone doors.
There are towers like this one (above) scattered all over the property. While they provide negligible defensive value, you can climb up ’em and look around. The place is such a maze it’s really hard to get a sense of how big it is.
You can climb up the towers via tiny little staircases that might be a problem if you are a ginormous fatty — while walking the whole Quinta is not particularly hard exercise, if you can’t walk 100 paces without stopping for a rest, it will kill you and they will have a really hard time getting your body out because some of the places are pretty tight.
Once you climb up one of these many towers that are dotted all over the landscape, you will probably see something like this (above). Like all of Sintra, it’s on a hillside and the builders added paths, streams, walls, statues, gardens, etc. You can walk 10 or 20 feet and discover a new grotto or path or statue. It’s fun to just explore.
Here Annie is opening one of the three different stone ‘secret doors’ we found (above photo). You have to be pretty strong to open them; Annie keeps herself fit and is up to the task. The stone doors lead to tunnels, staircases and passages (which are pretty fantastic but I didn’t get a lot of photos because they are really dark inside). Some of the tunnels terminate in one of two ‘wells’ that are deep pits with spiral stairs that curl around the shaft so you can climb up and look down or down and look up. Like this:
There’s really so much more, and these crappy photos don’t do it justice — after a while I just stopped bothering to take pictures because they really didn’t give a good sense of the place and I just wanted to keep looking and experiencing it rather than trying to figure out how to take pictures of it. But a lot of Portugal was like that.
This map probably give a better idea of how elaborate and fantastic this place is:
By now you have probably heard that Mike Jeffries, CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch, suppliers of man-whore wear to the masses, said some nasty things seven years ago and now people are really mad because he said nasty things about fat people and ‘aspirational branding’ and other bullshittery. People got very angry and protested in the streets. The squawks of outrage created by this ‘terrible event’ where a rich cocksucker said he didn’t want to sell clothing to fat or ‘uncool’ people has eclipsed the story of a Bangladesh factory collapse that killed more than 1,000 people who were making clothing for the US market (and may have even been making clothes for Abercrombie & Fitch). Factories collapse and workers die? The consumer shrugs and heads to the mall. A CEO says he doesn’t want to sell clothes to unpopular kids? We get mad, grab our placards and hit the streets. Are our priorities just a bit fucked or what?
Look at this picture where I compare Jeffries, Cocksucker in Chief of A&F, and a lizard man:
Is that motherfucker terrifying or what? His face just looks like a mask pulled over his lizardy skull – the weirdly fake prominent cheek bones and the flaccid lizard lips… under that obvious wig is probably a zipper that starts at the top of his skull and goes down his spine, allowing the lizard-king to show his true form… those fake teeth probably pop out like dentures, allowing him to chew his human babies with razor-sharp fangs. The lizard-humanoid hybrids are exactly what David Icke has been trying to warn us about! Jeffries is clearly one of the hybrids in disguise… Wanting to ‘create an aspirational brand’ by saying he will not sell clothes to the unpopular kids at your high school is the least of his crimes… child sacrifice, cannibalism, plotting the overthrow of humanity – that’s the shit we are talking about. This dude is more evil than Ming the Merciless
I love the human feet sticking out of the mouth — and the curls on the creature’s back. Plus it’s got a face like a bear and very human eyes. The bestiary informs me that the ‘cocodrilus’ weeps after eating a man.
Inspired by this most excellent bestiary, I decided I wanted to try to draw an ‘ant-lion’ aka myrmecoleon. The bestiary tells me: There are two interpretations of what an ant-lion is. In one version, the ant-lion is so called because it is the “lion of ants,” a large ant or small animal that hides in the dust and kills ants. In the other version, it is a beast that is the result of a mating between a lion and an ant. It has the face of a lion and and the body of an ant, with each part having its appropriate nature. Because the lion part will only eat meat and the ant part can only digest grain, the ant-lion starves.
OK, well, I have already decided I want to go for version 2 because version 1 is probably only scary to ants. So I start thinking about ants and lions and how I can combine them… I look to my online bestiary for help and all I get is this:
OK, not quite what I was looking for… I’m guessing the above is a drawing of ‘version 1.’ So I looked at pictures of ants and pictures of lions and doodled some in my sketch book… not my best effort, but so far I have this:
Here are the top 10 search terms people have used to find this blog since I started it:
The only one that has me confused is ‘rat monkey.’
|These idiots are going to cause a lot of traffic accidents.|
You have heard about ‘Google glass,’ right? If you haven’t, it’s a tiny computer with a heads up display, camera and earpiece that you wear like a pair of glasses. It reads texts to you through the earpiece, can follow voice commands and can show you images via the heads up display. People are already at work on facial recognition aps and other functions that make this the smartphone that you wear rather than carry. It will photograph whatever you are looking at if you say, “OK, Google, take a picture.” Google is trying to make the computer as natural an extension of your body without putting it IN your body as current technology allows.
I’m surprised they didn’t call it ‘Google goggles’ or ‘Googgles’ or something like that.
Maybe I’m just a cranky old man, but I hate it already and think it’s fucking creepy to have a computer/smartphone/texting device that is always on my head and shows the world absolutely everything I see and is constantly whispering in my ear or showing me pictures so I never need to be alone ever again. I predict that the world will soon be divided between the ‘googlers’ who are constantly sharing absolutely everything they do and see and hear and the rest of us who don’t give a shit. Plus the googlers will wear their stupid devices while they drive or walk and probably swerve all over the place and run into the rest of us who aren’t simultaneously travelling AND surfing the fucking web or texting on our eyeballs at the same time.
Google co-founder Sergey Brin dialed the creep factor up to 11 when he said, “It’s really a device that wants to be outdoors, wants to be outside, wants to be with family and friends…” Really? This device “wants” things? I want things like chicken… and when I get chicken, my dogs make it clear that they want chicken, too, and that seems perfectly natural to me… but I’m just not ready for a computer or smart phone or tablet or wearable computer goggles that wants things, too. There is entirely too much ‘wanting of things’ going on… and now that the purveyors of technology are claiming that things are starting to want things too, I’m about ready to say, “Enough, already” and go live in a cabin like Ted Kaczynski.
EDIT: Google Glass is also a device that does not want to be sold or shared. Not only has Google restricted early sales of the device to people who have made a compelling public pitch as to why they should be deemed worthy of owning the device, but, if you should be so lucky as to be ‘allowed’ to buy a pair of the cyber goggles, you are forbidden to sell, loan or give them to anyone else. Welcome to the brave new world where corporations are people and objects can tell their ‘owners’ the terms of ownership.
OK, so recently we were in Miami and we went to a coffee shop/restaurant for lunch.* This was a tiny place with tables and a counter with baristas, a stove, espresso machine and a cook all packed in tight behind it, everyone working ass-to-elbows. It was clean and the food was good, but Miami is full of good restaurants so competition has got to be fierce and margins are probably pretty thin. It was lunchtime but the place was half empty. Hopefully they do better on a week day when the people who work in the area want a bite for lunch.
In the City of (name blotted out), so it is said, the people worship the bronze bull god, Moloch the King. Moloch apparently demands heavy sacrifices and particularly likes children when petitioners come to him asking for big favors (although he will accept adults in a pinch). The usual method of offering to Moloch is to take the child to the temple and place it in the bronze hands of the furnace-like idol. The priests intone their prayers and pull on hidden chains, and, with a creak and a snap of iron gears and the clanging of brass gongs, the mechanical idol will open it’s mouth and the child will be tossed alive into the roaring furnace within. A large orchestra of brass and percussion instruments plays at ear-shattering volume during this performance in order to drown out the screams of the sacrificed (most older priests of Moloch are usually quite deaf; the loud volume of the orchestra is widely believed to be the cause). When the supply of sacrificeable children runs low or the cause to be addressed by the Bull King is less urgent or important, the still beating hearts of humans or animals removed with surgical expertise by priests can be substituted, although Moloch apparently gets quite petulant over these menu substitutions.
For less important requests, various animals, artworks, plants, food, or even gold or silver or jewels may be offered. Some valuables are not tossed into the fire directly but instead accepted by the priesthood and then (we promise) sacrificed in ceremonies open only to members of the priesthood. Somehow, the temples and rectories of Moloch are magnifently opulent places that rival even the palace of the King of M even though the tithes are quite reasonable — another Moloch miracle. There is some speculation that not every item offered in sacrifice makes it into the flames, but somehow Moloch seems to understand. Perhaps the Bull King feels that his priests should live like lords.
The children for sacrifice are usually selected by lottery… a lottery to which no family in the city other than the current royal family is immune. However, even in the City of (name blotted out), wealth has it’s priveledges. The wealthy and powerful are rumored to purchase ‘substitute’ children on the black market in order to protect their own progeny from Moloch’s sacrifice. Since Moloch usually demands the youngest member of a household, the ‘substitute’ is then sacrificed in his place and the child who has been spared will be provided with a new name and a forged certificate of birth. Rather than risk having to scurry about procuring sacrifice substitutions at the 11th hour (a stressful and difficult activity), the most powerful and wealthy routinely simply have a substitute child ‘on deck’ in case their house is chosen in Moloch’s lottery. The kidnapping of infants for sale on the black market and forgery are booming industries in (name blotted out) and it is suggested that if visitors plan on spending any time there, one should be sure not to be the youngest person in any family group.
Theologically speaking, there is no express prohibition in Moloch’s church from providing a substitute, although openly speaking of the fraud in public is considered impolite. The poor deal with this inequality the way that the poor deal with inequality everywhere: they moan and cry and shed impotent tears.
It is thought that the city of (name blotted out) is crazy for lotteries, since the succeeding ‘royal family’ is chosen at random from a dozen noble families upon each king’s death. When the king dies, ivory plaques bearing the seal of all twelve royal families are placed in a sacred bag made from bull’s hide. The high priest chooses one plaque at random and that family becomes the new ruling family, with the eldest male becoming king, the eldest female becoming queen, etc. Other positions are filled by members of the family as the new king sees fit. Unfortunately, this means there is very little continuity in the governance of the city except in the unlikely occurance that the same family is picked twice in a row (in which case the throne goes to the next eldest surviving male member of the family and other positions are usually retained from the previous administration). Some claim that all families once took part in the lottery but a cabal of the wealthy and powerful passed a series of laws limiting the drawing to the smaller number of families of means and station. Even speaking aloud the possibility that this might indeed be the case is considered a capital crime, and the speaker is likely to find himself tied down on the altar and his still beating heart dissapearing into the fiery god’s idol before he can say, “Ba’al Hammon.”
I work for a company that I will refer to as ‘Levy Pants Company’ (a very clever reference on my part to Peter O’Toole’s ‘Confederacy of Dunces’). We have a relationship with a vendor of communications services that I will call ‘Acme Communications.’ Acme’s billing is so notoriously full of errors and overcharges that ‘Levy Pants’ employs a ‘billing negotiation company’ I shall call ‘Clawback Enterprises’ to negotiate our bills for us. As far as I understand the process, in Acme’s billing agreements, Acme specifies that it is dependent upon the customer (Levy Pants) to determine whether or not the bill is accurate… which is where ‘Clawback’ comes in. ‘Clawback’ uses billing specialists (most are former employees of companies like Acme) to look through the bills and dispute errors unfavorable to Levy Pants. Every over-charge that is successfully dismissed nets Clawback about a third of what Levy Pants would have otherwise overpaid. Acme’s usual strategy to fight Clawback is to simply ignore requests for disputes and to continually send incorrect invoices in hopes that Levy Pants pays them… where they land on my desk and I immediately forward them to my associate at Clawback whom I will call ‘Laura.’
Put another way, Acme Communication’s bills are so notoriously filled with overcharges that companies like Clawback exist just to dispute them. This is insanity worthy of Twain or Swift… but overbilling may well be a growth source of revenue for Acme ‘cause they just keep doing it.
Periodically, I find myself in a three way conference call with representatives from Acme and Clawback. During these conference calls, I’m usually just trying to puzzle my way through the massive spreadsheets that Laura from Clawback has emailed to me about how fucked up the bills from Acme are that week and while they talk I try to figure out what the shizzle the Acme and Clawback people are arguing about.
A friend of mine owns a business where they rent furnished apartments to the well heeled traveling executive who needs a place to stay for extended periods. They have a crew that cleans the places out after a guest leaves, this group of male executives and high rollers leave behind a surprisingly large number of sex toys. If my friend rented apartments to porn stars or sex therapists, I guess finding sex toys would seem less surprising (at least to me).
Maybe the dildos and penis pumps are left behind by call girls? Maybe these middle aged dudes end up in a city and think to themselves, “I’ve always wanted to stick a dildo in my butt without my family judging me… here is my chance…”? I don’t know. Some of them are still in the package, meaning, I suppose, that they are still ‘perfectly good.’
What is a ‘penis pump’ for, anyway? As a species, have we grown so lazy that masturbating ‘by hand’ is too much work and we want a machine to do it for us? Or does the pump really permanently increase the size of the organ? Or does it just help the man who cannot rise to the occasion seal the deal with the call girl?