Ten Terrible Kisses from Long-Lost Literary Works, Part Two

Valentine’s Day comes but once a year, but the memory of a slimy, prolonged kiss is forever. If you missed it, revel in part one here.

1. The Overly Metaphorical Kiss from Neruda’s Early Poetry

Neruda wasn’t always the gorgeously direct poet of sand and sky that we now know him as. Like all of us, he really sucked once upon a time. Check out this tangle of metaphors from an early poem entitled “Apple Orchard and Moons”

Love, I kiss the succulent apple of your cheek
Which is also a moon, a round white moon,
But flushed like an apple. Pink and red, apple-colors,
Colors that remind me of your lips, those apples.
They are as cold as the moon. But pink like the inside
Of the belly of a dying snake.

2. The Unpleasant Surprise Kiss from Theseus and the Minotaur

In one of the many spin-off myths concerning Theseus and the Minotaur, Theseus rounds the corner of the dark labyrinth and gets a nasty shock…

He clutched at his sword, gasping in fear every time his shoes scraped the dank walls. The labyrinth was eerily silent. A sharp turn appeared before him—there was only one way to go. Heart pounding, Theseus leaped around the corner and suddenly his mouth was pressed against something large, hairy, and smelling vaguely of beef. The kiss went on for what seemed like years before the Minotaur sprang back with a bellow of disgust. “KILL YOU FOR THAT,” screamed the bull. Theseus pulled out his sword. “None kisseth me and liveth to tell the tale,” he said in a voice like iron.

3. Sauron’s Kiss from The Return of the King

Critics and Tolkien-ites alike often wonder why the following passage was deleted from the original draft of LOTR:

Sauron looked down at the vulnerable orc. For a moment, the Dark Lord saw himself in the fallen soldier—lost, alone, thrown onto the erratic winds of fate. His eyes stung. What was this emotion filling his soul? Weakness! Weakness! Still, Sauron lifted the orc’s bloodied hand, without meaning to, without wanting to, and placed his cold lips upon its palm. “It will all be okay,” he whispered. The orc twitched and died. Sauron dropped the lifeless hand in disgust. “Weak, sniveling creature,” he hissed. Continue reading →

Ten Terrible Kisses from Long-Lost Literary Works, Part One

Flavorwire has compiled a list called 10 of the Greatest Kisses in Literature, which is great, but can we please stop swooning over Romeo and Juliet and start shivering in horror about literature’s most awful kisses, instead? Here, for the first time in history, I’ve unearthed a decade’s worth of Valentine horror stories from a compilation of ancient, lost, or mysteriously destroyed texts. Enjoy–and don’t forget your chastity lip ring tonight. (It’s like a chastity belt, but no one can kiss you unless they have the key. And your dad swallowed the key. Happy Valentine’s Day!)

1. The “Lizard Tongue” Kiss from Pyramus and Thistle

Long after Pyramus and Thisbe died of their ill-fated love, there was Pyramus and Thistle, a charming novella from the early 1700’s about a jolly bachelor and his librarian ladylove. Charming, that is, until this dark passage surfaces halfway through:

“Why, Mr. Pyramus,” she breathed. “You’re standing awfully close.” It was then that he reached out his impossibly long tongue and gently licked her earlobe. She shivered in anticipation. “I love you,” he said, and bent his head down and kissed her. “It feels like I’m kissing a thousand lizards,” she whispered.

2. The “Smash Mouth” Kiss from Smash Mouth: A Super Authorized Biography

Remember the band Smash Mouth? Their manager wrote this biography, which was subsequently destroyed by a lunatic editor at Random House who insisted it was the worst piece of writing he’d ever read and then jumped off a bridge. In this passage, the lead singer reflects on a memorable groupie:

She kissed me and I felt like an All Star. I felt like I was Walking on the Sun. We Smashed our Mouths against each other for a while. Then I had to go back to the Astro Lounge and get ready for my next set. “You can be my girlfriend for the next hour,” I told her. She looked pleased.

3. The “Creepy Tree Kiss” from Shakespeare’s Long Lost Picture Book

Much speculation has been made about Shakespeare’s missing plays, but in 1984, a professor at Cambridge attempted to free a bat that was caught in his chimney and instead pulled down a vital piece of chimney support, bringing the entire structure crashing onto his head. Once the rubble cleared, his grieving wife noticed a sheaf of yellowed paper protruding from one of the bricks. It was entitled “The Kissing Tree,” and it was a picture book written by none other than one “Wm Shaksper.”

“Lean closer,” said the tree. “My leaves tinkle in the wind, as though they were the very soul of love, crying for her master.” The little boy crept closer. “Place thy lips on my bark,” said the tree, “for I kiss by the book.” Continue reading →

How to Tell if Your Friends Think You’re a Serial Killer

Insecurity: the plague of our overly-self-aware post-postmodern times. How many of us have shivered beneath a pile of blankets, listening to the wind keening through the eaves and wondering what our friends really think of us? How many of us have collapsed under doubts of our own self-worth, frothing at the mouth as we scream, “Will anybody love me for me?” And how many of us have bitten our fingernails to the nub while the tears pour down our faces like blackened rain, asking ourselves that difficult, age-old question: “Does everybody think I’m a serial killer?”

Have I got a treat for you! Here are some easy ways to tell if your friends think you’re a serial killer.

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Do they pretend to be deaf when you ask to meet their cute friends?

Do they give you strange looks when you mention doing your laundry in the basement?

Do you overhear conversations that go like this?:

“I want another beer.”
“Me too. Grab me one?”
“No, can you grab me one?”
“I don’t want to open the fridge first.”
I don’t want to open the fridge first!”

When you recount tales of loves lost, do they ask, “So wh-what’s he doing th-these d-days?”

Do they always, always, ALWAYS agree with you? Continue reading →

The Value of Books

These are strange days for the publishing industry. The way books are published, sold, bought, and read is completely changing, and the oily-faced chief exec of Amazon is being, for lack of a better word, creepy: trying to cut out publishers entirely, devaluing the concept of “a book” by pricing ebooks so low. Amazon has seriously slashed our mental image of what a book is worth—we just aren’t willing to spend real money on books anymore.

When you read the Yelp reviews of my favorite independent Chicago bookstores, there’s always a handful of bitter Yelpers complaining about how expensive the books are at Myopic, or The Book Cellar, or Unabridged Books. These disillusioned readers love to moan, “Why should I buy my books here, when I can get them for 75% cheaper on Amazon?” (Why did you walk into a brick-and-mortar book store then, dude?) We don’t think of books as something that should = a significant amount of money, and we feel oppressed or even repulsed by the idea of dropping multiple dollar bills on reading material. We won’t spend $30 on books. We won’t spend $20 on books. We might not even spend $10 on books. Because that’s like two and a half caramel macchiatos. Continue reading →

10 Places You Must See Before You Die

1. America

Known to natives as “land of the free, home of the brave,” America has something for everyone. If you want to see cool buildings, you’re in luck–several of America’s most famous cities are full of buildings. Looking for a great local bar? Simply head to the middle of any city or town and look for a sign that says “Red Lion,” “Plough,” or Tiki Palace.” Itching to try some of our famous cuisine? Any major American highway is lined with tantalizing options–we recommend the legendary restaurant Arby’s, pronounced AR-BEEZ.

2. Ocean

Ocean is a large hole, filled to the brim with pulsing, salty water. Return to your fetal roots and take a dip in the comforting intrauterine bath that brings life to the world and allows clouds to form and whales to survive. And mermaids!!

3. The Moon

No vacation is complete without a long stare at the night sky. Crane your neck from side to side until you spot a mysterious, shining orb. This is the “moon,” a legendary ball of rock that hangs from the ceiling of the sky on invisible threads. Please note: “moon” is often confused with “sun.” One simple way to tell them apart: are your retinae burning? That is not the moon.

4. Pasta with Parmesan

King Solomon’s riches. Cleopatra’s beauty. Pasta with Parmesan. Often called the “Venus de Milo of the Twenty-First Century,” a steaming bowl of buttery pasta, lightly salted and sprinkled with curls of fresh Parmesan, is a thing of beauty and a joy forever. Please note: keep an eye out for curly small noodles in a colorless broth. Con artists have been known to trick tourists into paying good money for this sight, attempting to pass it off as pasta con Parmigiano, but it’s actually a cheap knockoff called Ramen. 

5. Not the Inside of a Hospital

If you have never seen the inside of a hospital, you have possibly had a great life, with the exception of–ew–your home birth.

6. Facebook’s Deactivation Screen

Nobody who hasn’t attempted to free themselves from the soul-sucking claws of Facebook at least once can call themselves an actualized human being. Facebook’s deactivation screen is manipulative and strange–you’ll be presented with a series of random “friends,” as Facebook insists, “They’ll miss you!” But they won’t miss you. They won’t miss you at all. 

7. Jupiter’s Core

Have you ever wanted to be crushed into an exquisite diamond by unbelievable pressure and strange gaseous substances? Nothing is better than a Tiffany’s ring–except maybe a glittering rock composed of your very own body. We’ll bet good money that your soul’s in there, too. Book your trip to Jupiter, today!

8. A Really Spaced-Out Baby

Not much is cuter than a baby drooling on his dad’s arm, totally spacing out and quite possibly high. Hello there, lil’ fella!

9.  Bros Talking Shop

Bored in a strange city? Catch some prime comedy by heading to your local coffee shop or gym and listening to bros talking shop! You’ll split your sides wide open at lines like, “We’re really taking the initiative by reaching out into formerly untouched markets,” and “Can you recommend a great distributor with the skill sets I’m looking for?” A can’t-miss attraction!

10. Graveyards in the Snow

If you really want to feel like an artist–or the Phantom of the Opera’s next victim–take a stroll around your local burial grounds the next time it snows. The deep silence, the soft gray of the tombstones shimmering through the snowflakes, the stone angels with their temporal crowns of white, the strange snow-covered lumps on the ground that cannot be confirmed or denied to be dead bodies–it’s a life-changing experience.