“REVIEW: Taco Bell Diablo Sauce”

“Taco Bell has opened a gate to hell. Proof: “Bell” rhymes with “hell.” Convenient. Seven layer burrito? Nine circles of hell. And there are actually nine layers if you count the tortilla and the Pepto Bismol that is actually essential. And latest of all, they’ve introduced Diablo sauce. Diablo, for the Latin-impaired, is Spanish for the mother-bleeping Devil. Maybe some of you know Diablo as “Stop playing that computer game and come to bed,” but for non-nerds they aren’t even trying to hide it. It’s called Devil sauce. Taco Bell has conjured El Diablo and is feeding us its hot fluids.

“Other hell ties: The Devil is, like, half goat and Taco Bell does NOT serve goat because then we would be eating the Devil’s relatives; “run for the (south) border” can be simplified to “run south” and south (down) is where hell is; and somehow they consider cinnamon Cheetos a dessert. Unholy.”   –Kevin, The Impulsive Buy, 2015

Read the full review here.

REVIEWED: Dante’s Inferno: A Verse Translation by Sean O’Brien

“At least 50 English translations of The Inferno — the first volume of Dante’s three-part epic — have appeared in the 20th century alone. And now we have another, by the Yorkshire-born poet Sean O’Brien. O’Brien’s is a brave undertaking, given the scores of august literary figures who have attempted the task in previous centuries, often obscuring Dante’s brilliance in the process.

“O’Brien’s Inferno is touted by the publishers as ‘the most fluent, grippingly readable English version of Dante yet’.”   –Ian Thomson, The Spectator, 2006

Read the full review here.

Matilde Urbach’s virtual book club at the Biblioteca Joan Triadu’ de Vic (Barcelona, Spain): Dante 2021


“Llegir els clàssics és un club de lectura virtual de la Biblioteca Joan Triadú de Vic. Va néixer, per casualitat, el passat mes d’abril, en ple confinament covid, quan la biblioteca (l’edifici) va haver de tancar portes. A l’espai físic del carrer Arquebisbe Alemany, 5 no s’hi podia accedir, no, però la biblioteca obria per confinament a la xarxa. Els clubs de lectura presencials van parar en sec, és clar. Ens quedava De casa al club, en format blog, on es va poder celebrar la trobada per comentar Claus i Lucas i encara faltaven uns mesos per iniciar les sessions virtuals, via Jitsi Meet, del Club de lectura Dones i Literatura, per exemple. Llavors, cap a finals d’abril, va aparèixer Tellfy, una app de comunicació instantània per a dispositius mòbils, que permetia traslladar a la xarxa l’activitat de les comunitats de lectors. I ara entra en escena la casualitat. No la menystingueu mai. Resulta que, una tarda de finals d’abril, em vaig descarregar l’aplicació Tellfy a la tauleta per fer el xafarder. Vaig començar a fer provatures, per pura curiositat, insisteixo. Vaig triar un llibre, l’Odissea, que era el que estava llegint, en això no em vaig trencar gaire les banyes, i vaig començar de rumiar com carai m’ho faria, posat per cas que en volgués crear un club de lectura virtual amb aquell estri nou. Que si això que si allò, que tomba que gira. Però com que els meus experiments eren públics —estava emetent en obert— em vaig trobar, de sobte, que dues persones s’havien afegit a la comunitat lectora que acabava de crear. Ara pla, amb això no hi comptava.  I així és com el simulacre va acabar en una lectura compartida de l’Odissea, al Tellfy.

“Vaig acceptar el repte de bon grat perquè estic convençuda que els clàssics són els grans abandonats de les biblioteques públiques. Dediquem molts esforços a les novetats i als llibres que puguin acontentar els lectors. La majoria dels lectors, si més no. Així ho crec. Llegiríem, doncs, l’Odissea, tal i com diu el Senyor dolent en aquest apunt: a poc a poc (un cant per setmana) i trigant el que s’hagi de trigar.

“Amb el pas dels mesos i l’arribada d’allò que en diuen la nova normalitat (ecs!), la part participativa, d’interacció, de la comunitat Tellfy anava perdent pistonada fins a pràcticament desaparèixer i, per contra, la informació que anava penjant de cada cant agafava gruix, per acumulació, és clar. L’única pega és que aquests continguts quedaven absolutament enterrats en l’aplicació, sense accés obert des de la xarxa. Per aquest motiu m’he decidit a traslladar-los a un blog. Aquí el teniu: Llegir els clàssics. I com podeu apreciar, el títol —que no és Llegir l’Odissea apunta —ara que estem a quatre cants del final— que tinc tota la intenció de donar-li continuïtat. Amb covid o sense.”    —Matilde Urbach, Biblioteca Joan Triadu’ de Vic

Stranded on Purgatory Island

“A Dantean reflection on the ecological disaster of isolation (and why this is not Hell).”  Essay by Filippo Gianferrari (UC-Santa Cruz) for Breaking Ground, July 27, 2020

Twitter is the 45th Circle of Hell


“Unknown to Dante, there is a 45th circle of Hell known as ‘Twitter.’ It used to take 140 steps to get there, but after the expansion of residents it is now 280 paces to reach your destination. To be sure, calling this beloved social media network the 45th level of Hell is quite an accusation, and I must support it with evidence. Well, these days I should at least try to support it with evidence. Come to think of it, who needs evidence when I have Twitter? Alas, I will do my best to use logic. This will make one time in a row.” [. . .]    — Ian Winer, Twitter, August 2, 2019.


The 5 Levels of NFL Draft Hell


“The language of sports is full of jargon used to signal inclusion. Being in on the dialect indicates expertise — being someone who lives in and understands traditions. Jargon can also act as a replacement for original thought and provides a way to anesthetize the speaker and their audience from the human realities and consequences of sports. The conversation around the NFL Draft demonstrates this power of jargon in shaping the idea of football and its athletes: We’ve begun looking at players and their bodies through the cliches and expressions they are confined to.

“Terms like ‘elite,’ ‘draft stock,’ and ‘big board’ are used by experts and fans to signal belonging. Players are reduced to ambiguous descriptors, like ‘gunslinger’ and ‘winner.’ More troublesome, this path of reduction and obscurement leads to whitewashing a history of domestic violence as ‘character concerns,’ homosexuality dismissed as a ‘distraction,’ and black athletes portrayed as monsters and brutes. ‘Freak’ and ‘machine’ are treated as endearing descriptions, and the suspicion that a black quarterback can’t ‘read a defense’ tries to hide the racist idea that black people are not as smart as their white counterparts.

“This corrupted language leads to corrupted thinking. The banality of most jargon, in making sure to hide reality behind doublespeak, inevitably escalates to lightly coded bigotry. Jargon lets old prejudices and racist tropes run amok, disguised as sporting truths. To help untangle these euphemisms, we created a glossary to decode NFL evaluations, separated by levels of nefariousness that even Dante would appreciate. And in that spirit, let us take you on a journey …” [. . .]    –Zito Madu & Charles Mcdonald, Sbnation, 2018

A Word a Day from Dante

A word a day from Dante’s writing, hosted by Accademia della Crusca
See also this

“Dante’s Inferno and Governor Good Hair”

“Dante wrote his famous work in a day when pundits could not openly attack the powers that be in columns such as this for fear of their lives.  Well thanks to the First Amendment of the Constitution I’m somewhat protected in what I can say about our contemporary politicians.  I’m somewhat limited because I cannot defame or slander anyone; I can, however, make fun of them as I describe their foibles and fumblings.

“Anyway, I digress.  Dante wrote his very descriptive poem describing Hell (The Inferno) as being constructed of many layers.  The lower you descended the worse the conditions were.  The sinner who passed away was assigned to the specific layer reserved for those with similar sins and the worse the sins the lower the level.

“Interestingly enough Dante placed politicians in the lowest levels where those who lied, committed treachery, fraud and treason against the state.  I couldn’t figure where Governor Good Hair exactly belonged because he has been guilty of so many infractions.  So, I stuck him in both levels.”   —Mary Mata, News Taco, 2014

Read the full article here.

“CARLTON FLETCHER: Finding the proper circle in Dante’s hell for the deserving”

fletcher sig.jpg

“In the classic poem “The Divine Comedy,” finished in 1320 by Italian poet Dante Alighieri, Dante made note of the nine circles of hell that he visited during what had to have been a fever dream.

“In doing so, Dante left the perfect vehicle for we mere mortals centuries later to assign the likes of those with whom we’re at odds or others whose abhorrent behavior we find particularly egregious. So, as we close out this most contentious of years — a year we might dump as a whole into the first circle of Dante’s hell — here are a few nominees for various levels of the poet’s underworld.”   —Carlton Fletcher, Albany Herald, 2020
See the full article here.

Elena Ferrante, Storia del nuovo cognome (2012)

“Ma adesso, a Ischia, aveva incontrato Lila e avevo capito che lei era stata fin dall’infanzia—e sarebbe stata sempre in futuro—il suo vero unico amore. Eh sì, era andata di sicuro a questo modo. E come rimproverarlo? Dov’era la colpa? C’era, nella loro storia, qualcosa d’intenso, di sublime, affinità elettive. Evocai versi e romanzi come tranquillanti. Forse, pensai, aver studiato mi serve solo a questo: a calmarmi. Lei gli aveva acceso la fiamma in petto, lui per anni l’aveva custodita senza accorgersene: ora che quella fiamma era divampata. Cos’altro poteva fare se non amarla. Anche se lei non l’amava. Anche se era sposata e quindi inaccessibile, vietata: un matrimonio dura per sempre, oltre la morte. A meno che non lo si infranga condannandosi alla bufera infernale fino giorno del Giudizio.”   –Elena Ferrante, Storia del nuovo cognome (p. 237)