Proof I Am a Complete Sadistic Bastard

There’s a writer named John Mierau who asked me to retweet his campaign to crowdsource a novel:

I retweeted, he made his goal, and he ate a Bolivian Rainbow pepper while reading The Eye of Argon. If you want to go straight to the pepper eating, it starts at about 9:30. At about 10:24 he bites into it. Watch his face. Just watch it.

Eventually he starts rubbing his eyes with the hand he’s holding the pepper in. I’m not sure about the wisdom of that.

Anyway, yeah: The Bolivian Rainbow causing this poor man’s tongue to melt? My doing. What can I say, I’m a jerk. On the other hand, it’s the spiciest reading of The Eye of Argon, ever.

33 Comments on “Proof I Am a Complete Sadistic Bastard”

  1. My mouth is breaking out in sores just thinking about that, never mind watching it.

    How do people enjoy hot peppers? My understanding (purely intellectual, academic understanding, mind) is that the pain causes a rush of endorphins or whatever and that feels good. Is the rush really worth it? Wouldn’t it be easier to just drive really fast or bungee jump?

    Are spicy food lovers masochists or thrill-seekers in other areas of their lives, too, or do they just sublimate it all into the culinary realm?

  2. It’s important to suffer for your art, I always say. Did he thank you for the character-building exercise?

    By the way, I see what you did there – now I am compelled to go buy one of his ebooks because I feel so bad for him. Hopefully his taste buds regenerate eventually.

  3. Dramatic readings of “The Argon” are some of my favorite YouTube nuggets. The fact that both the reader and the listener suffer here… almost makes up for the fact that the author doesn’t.

    This makes me want to do a Kickstarter just to up the ante with a hotter pepper…. I’m aware this is not wise, but that’s really not my schtick.

  4. I too have a Kickstarter coming up (my short film Five Points–comedy short about revenge of the (zombie) (puppet) roadkill). And so this terrifies me deeply. Because I’d totally do it.

  5. At least people will know that if they offer you some bizarre bargain, they better be serious about it.

  6. You hilarious bastard. [1]

    [1] Metaphorical bastard. Your speific ancestral marriage arrangements do not color my opinion of you in any way.

  7. This gave me flashbacks to the time I accidentally ate an entire habanero pepper. For the record, he’ll be experiencing a second wave of pain later.

  8. I love how his eyes tear up right away. I use to eat raw jalipeño peppers when I had a cold. Until the day I inhaled a seed into my lungs. I managed to cough up the seed, but the pepper oil burned in my lung for about an hour. Nothing I could do. I don’t eat many raw peppers anymore. I do miss them sometimes.

  9. I am so familiar with that sensation of “hey, this isn’t so bad” followed by “holy CRAP this hurts!” I am probably a terrible person, but I love how you can see the poor man’s face turning red. You sure he’s gonna survive the two weeks for updates?

  10. It is definitely not a good idea to wipe your eyes with the same hand used to hold (or worse, cut) hot peppers without washing first. I did that once and was wracked with pain for hours. I’ve never been pepper-sprayed, but I have some notion of how bad it must be.

  11. Maybe he should try something easier and less gonzo, like eating a rubber tire to the music of “The Flight of The Bumblebee” .

  12. Does anyone know how the Eye of Argon compares to the Key of Ban by James B. Harshfield? KoB made my eyes bleed, so if EoA is anything like it, there’s no way I would risk my health and sanity again.

  13. Wait, he did the video after his Kickstarter thing is already closed? Seems like a bit of a marketing failure there..

  14. Eye of Argon makes Key of Ban look like a timeless masterwork of fantasy prose.

    Random pages from Eye of Argon are capable of sending copyeditors to long-term rehab. Reading Eye of Argon aloud is a violation of the International Accord on Human Rights, and even when done alone in a soundproof room constitutes felonious masochism in many jurisdictions. John Mierau is not eating a hot pepper to increase the pain of reading Eye of Argon aloud. John Mierau is eating a hot pepper to remind himself that there are much less painful forms of self-abuse available than reading Eye of Argon.

    I once asked Jim Hogan to read any single page of Eye of Argon aloud. He gave me a bottle of single-malt Irish whiskey to never ask again.

  15. E: How do people enjoy hot peppers?

    In small quantities, at least until they build up some resistance. :-)

    The active ingredient in hot peppers is capsaicin. In the wild, it helps discourage rodents and other mammals from chowing down on pepper plants. (Birds are completely unaffected, so they can spread the pepper seeds.)

    Capsaicin works by tricking your nerve cells into feeling heat. So your body reacts: It releases some endorphins. But if you eat enough spicy peppers, you’ll eventually overwork certain nerve cells, and you’ll develop a partial immunity. If you stop eating spicy food for a while, your nerve cells will eventually regrow.

    So if you start out with a dash of Tabasco sauce on your eggs, you’ll get a little “whoo-eee” rush. But eventually you’ll need to add more and more Tabasco to get the same effect. A couple of years later, you’ll be saying things like, “The Bolivian Rainbow has a great flavor, but it’s really not that spicy.”

    Some pepper-lovers are definitely thrill-seekers. Others slowly build up a tolerance over 70 years, until they’re complaining that you just can’t get decent habaneros any more.

  16. “In the wild, it helps discourage rodents and other mammals from chowing down on pepper plants.”

    So the plant evolves a defense to keep mammals from eating the berries. Then humans come along, and eat the berries just to experience the pain. This isn’t quite the same as evolving a defense to let humans eat the peppers and get the calories from them, it’s more like “hey Ogg, this milk smell bad! You try!”.

    Large herbivores evolve horns and antlers for defense and to compete for mates. Humans come along, kill the critters, mount the antlers on the wall and brag about bagging such a formidable animal.

    Puffer fish evolve toxins. Humans come along and make a sport of eating the fish because of the toxins.

    Human beings; dedicated to flipping off the entire animal kingdom, one species at a time.

  17. My brother in law hosted a dinner party once with hot sauce that was above 1 million Scovilles. Then his friends skin started to burn. Turns out the bottle was leaking. They were talking about this, when his friend came out of the bathroom with a pale a grim face and just said “Did you say the bottle was leaking?”

  18. “Oh my god…this tastes like war! Can I have some water please? And a TIME MACHINE!” – Whitney Cummings

  19. 30K SHU? That’s it? That’s on the low end of Cayenne and Tabasco peppers.

    *looks evil* Should have suggested the Dorset Naga (a variant of the ‘ghost pepper’). It ‘clocks in’ at somewhere between 661,451 and most recently one hit 1,598,227 SHU. Just for comparison, Law Enforcement pepper spray starts at 500,000, though it’s often diluted down to 200k.

    *innocently* India has, or is in the process of, weaponizing the Bhut Jolokia (‘ghost pepper’).

  20. 1. There is a pepper called the Scotch Bonnet. There is not one called the Scottish Bonnet.

    2. Lovers of spicy food actually have fewer tastebuds than people who do not love spicy food. Now that half my tongue has been removed, I should like food twice as spicy, but somehow that hasn’t worked.

    3. If you’ve overdone capsaicin, drinking water will not help you. I’ve found wedges of lemon (bite and chew the middle, not the peel) to be helpful. This will not do for your eyes; I understand that contact lens solution (lots) is effective there, though I have not (praise to the gods!†) had to try it.

    4. Capsaicin is one of those things you don’t want to mention to people who believe in Intelligent Design (assuming you’re foolish enough to talk to such people). It affects mammals but not birds. This is quite adaptive for the plant, since birds don’t digest the seeds, and they come out in nice little piles of fertilizer. One practical use of this fact is that if squirrels are bothering your bird feeder you can put crushed red pepper in it. The birds will never notice, but the squirrels…will.‡

    † Well, the gods and my practice of wearing disposable nitrile gloves and goggles whenever I cut the highest-Scoville pepper I personally use, which is the habanero.
    ‡ I’ve heard of a squirrel that loved it. Nothing works all the time.

  21. @ uldihaa

    30K SHU? That’s it? That’s on the low end of Cayenne and Tabasco peppers.

    If that is a Scotch Bonnet – and it sure looks like one – then John Mierau was off about almost an order of magnitude, as those puppies usually clock in at a couple hundred thousand SHU.

    Watching this right before lunch made my mouth water, so I used some of my Bird’s Eye chilies in my lunch stir fry. Not as hot as what this nut ate, but still freakin’ scrumptious.

    If you wanna see real pepper masochism:

  22. So the plant evolves a defense to keep mammals from eating the berries. Then humans come along, and eat the berries just to experience the pain.

    Or, to think of it another way, the plant just stumbled upon an even more effective reproduction strategy than the bird thing.

  23. @ Mike

    Human beings; dedicated to flipping off the entire animal kingdom, one species at a time.

    When did fruits join the animal kingdom?

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