Cocktail Chatter

Sexy Roast Chicken, Randy Anatomists, and Star Wars Blues

The week’s most interesting Slatestories.

The Rosslyn Code: The real mystery lurking in the chapel where Dan Brown set The Da Vinci Code,” by Chris Wilson. Scotland’s Rosslyn chapel is as densely layered in conspiracy theories as it is in enigmatic carvings. In a five-part series, Wilson picks through the myths to unearth an eccentricand strangely plausiblemusical explanation for the church’s puzzling stonework.

Beaucoup B.S.: The DSK case and the silly stereotypes about American and European morals,” by Christopher Hitchens. How many pundits have opined that we should try to process sexual scandal more maturely, like the French? While it’s true that bedroom intrigue can bring out Americans’ Puritan side, Hitchens deplores the way some Europeans have jumped to the defense of alleged rapist Strauss-Kahn.

A Brief Tour of the Cambodian Sex Industry: Is buying sex a better way to help Cambodian women than buying a T-shirt?” by Ken Silverstein. Punishing conditions and low pay in Cambodia’s clothing factories are giving sex work a halo of practicality, if not respectability. Sleazing through the hostess bars of Phnom Penh, Silverstein speaks with women about the brutal calculus that led them to prostitution.

A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away … I Was a Star Wars Fan: I’m Still Recovering,” by Will Carlough. What remains for a fanboy when near-heretical prequels destroy a beloved franchise? Five stages of grief and the urge to binge on Pokémon cartoons.

Decorated Officer: An interactive guide to all the stars, medals, and ribbons on the uniform of Gen. David Petraeus,” by Jeremy Singer-Vine. Like astrologers reading the stars, the public has long sought some sort of meaning or message in the insignia glittering on General Petraeus’s chest. Singer-Vineis here to help: Scroll across a photograph of the General, and you’ll find each piece of “fruit salad” identified and explained.

French Twist: Why do so many smart, sane people think Nicolas Sarkozy set up DSK?” by Anne Applebaum. With Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s fall from grace, the French political class has grown more estranged from the hopes and sympathies of ordinary people. Will the radical National Front party fill the void?

The Sounds Poems Make: How the sax led Robert Pinsky to poetry—and now to jazz collaboration,” by Robert Pinsky. Robert Frost was one of the first to observe that sentences have melodies of their own, but he never tested his theory at the head of a four-piece band. In this article, Pinsky recounts how a love affair with music brought him to the doorstep of his poetic muse. 

Roast Chicken for Two, a Recipe: Step 1: Preheat your oven. Step 2: Wash chicken. Step 3: Have sex with your partner,” by Michael Ruhlman. “Cooking—and having sex for fun–is what makes us human,” avers the writer in this defense of couples taking time to properly nourish their bodies—and their relationships. If you’ve yet to discover the erotic potential of poultry, prepare to be amazed.

Mommy Hates Daddy, and You Should Too: The extraordinary fight over “parental alienation syndrome” and what it means for divorce cases,” by Dahlia Lithwick. Parental alienation syndrome is a mental condition in which a child, often goaded by one vindictive parent, comes to hate the second parent. If this doesn’t sound quite like a psychological disorder to you, then you’re in line with most psychiatrists. But that hasn’t stopped divorce lawyers from using the “syndrome” to discredit legitimate grievances from both spouses and children. 

How the Brain Got Its Buttocks: Sixteenth-century anatomists couldn’t keep their minds out of the gutter,” by Jesse Bering. “René Descartes may have celebrated the pineal gland as the ‘seat of the soul,’” writes Bering, but for the “less metaphysically minded” physicians who began diagramming the brain in the 1700s, “that structure was more like a penis.” So, he concludes, the next time your sleep cycle seems off, blame your member.