Wednesday, July 31, 2013

"to traffic freely with angelic forces"

I'd read about the cross-dressing berdache tradition of shamanism, and decided I could do a glossy, chaos magic, nineties version of that as a way of shaking out my identity and becoming my own complete opposite. A few fetish-wear catalogues later, and I'd assembled a shiny disguise … The clothes and makeup allowed me to transform into a female alter ego I now created to stand in for me during the darker magical operations I was undertaking. … [T]he 'girl' was smarter and more courageous and could more easily negotiate with and fend off predatory 'demonic' entities. … Dressed in black vinyl with six-inch heels, showgirl makeup, and a blond wig, I began to traffic freely with angelic forces …
That's Grant Morrison in his memoir / essay on superheroes, Supergods: what masked vigilantes, miraculous mutants, and a sun god from Smallville can teach us about being human.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

maybe I should get some endive

I’ve heard of this “super-taster” business, that some people have such sensitive tongues that there are foods they can’t get down. I think I was in a biology class in which the teacher brought in what must have been propylthiouracil so the students could find out for themselves how super their tasting was. Which is to say, if I was, I was absent that day.

Rachel Herz provides the service:
The way I assessed sensitivity to bitter taste was by having participants place a little piece of paper dabbed with a compound known as propylthiouracil (PROP) on their tongue. PROP is medically used in the treatment of thyroid disease, and the ability to taste PROP is an excellent genetic indicator of your sensitivity to bitter and taste sensations in general. If you find a little taste of PROP as being equivalently bitter as staring at the sun is bright, then you’re a “super-taster.” If you think PROP tastes bitter but you can live with it, you’re a “taster,” and if you’re perplexed as to what all the fuss is about, you’re a “non-taster.” Without having to take a PROP test, if you won’t eat endive because it tastes horribly bitter to you then you’re likely a super-taster.

I don’t remember whether I’ve ever tried endive. It’s probably easier to get ahold of than PROP. On the other hand, do I already know? Beer is bitter but most people can get swallow after swallow past the lips over the tongue and down. Not me. Hand me a beer and you can watch my bitter face emerge, even to a slight reflexive shake of the head. I have tried many different beers and ales, usually prefaced by the offerer’s assertion that this is a really good beer, hardly bitter at all, rich, complex, satisfying. I have never finished even a single glass. I got halfway through a bottle once or twice. It took me an hour or so. “If you drink enough, you won’t notice the taste,” a brother promised. I never succeeded in drinking enough. I can enjoy a select few wines (hello, Chardonnay), and will get buzzed on those yummy tropical fruit drinks where you can’t taste the alcohol, but, beer aside, I seem to find most alcohol unpalatable. The buzz is nice. Being drunk, however, makes me stupid and clumsy, negating qualities I prize. So I’m not bemoaning my aversion.

Am I a super-taster? I still don’t know. Whether my tongue is special as regards discrimination among fine foods, I’m not clear on either, frankly.

source: That’s Disgusting: unraveling the mysteries of repulsion by Rachel Herz