Sunday, 12 June 2022

good wine needs no bush

A shared image of a Japanese supermarket’s libations section seems at first to illicit a mangled, machined translation or poor command of English whereas this example is no case of Engrish to be  ridiculed but rather a pretty apt quotation from William Shakespeare in, recursively, the epilogue to As you Like It. With the term bush denoting the sprigs of a grapevine that symbolised a vintner’s shingle, the phrase meant that quality speaks for itself and does not need to be advertised—with the reference all but lost to English-speakers: delivered by Rosalind, “If it be true, that good wine needs no bush, ’tis true, that a good play needes no Epilogue.” The French equivalent, still in common-parlance, is ร  bon vin point d’enseigne or the German—not beating around the bush—gute Ware lobt sich selbst.

Tuesday, 15 March 2022

ut annare perannareque commode liceat

Originally corresponding to the first full moon of the New Year, this day, the Ides of March, was marked by the Feast of Anna Perenna, a public holiday with much feasting and sacrifice to secure a propitious and healthy year ahead. Revelers beseeched the deification of the passage of time to grant them as many more fruitful years as cups of wine they could imbibe and observed despite calendar reforms and the pivot away from lunar cycles. Associated with the assassination of Julius Caesar who ignored the warnings of a seer, a practitioner of haruspicy—that is divination through entrails—called Spurinna, the festivities changed and were formalized after the civil war as an imperial procession marking the end of a holy week of sorts in honour of the Cybele, the Magna Mater, and her consort Attis, who represented the cycle of the seasons, and passion plays (performed by tree-bearing priests called dendrophoroi) that marked the birth and death of that figure in anticipation of the vernal equinox.

Friday, 4 March 2022

pontypridd

Born this day in 1800 in Caerphilly, courtesy of Weird Universe, we learn about the singular figure of William Price (†1893), physician, Druid priest, vegetarian, marriage and organised religion contrarian and champagne enthusiast—would that we could stop with those epithets and skip nationalist and anti-vaxxer. Often seen donning an elaborate headdress of fox pelts, long hair and beard and emerald green onesie with incantations—or alternately stalk naked on his daily constitutional through the countryside, Price’s legacy includes the legalisation of cremation in Great Britain, previously against custom, when sadly his infant son, Iesu Grist—Welsh for Jesus Christ Price, died suddenly and Price burned his body on a pyre in accordance with Druidic traditions. Arrested for the unlawful disposal of a corpse, Price was however able to successfully plead his defence in court, leading to the passage of UK Cremation Act of 1902 and the establishment of crematoria throughout the country. Aged eighty-two, Price fathered a second son—also named Jesus (plus a daughter two years later called Penelopen) at which time he made detailed arrangements for the disposition of his estate and death, a funeral pyre a decade later attended by twenty-thousand mourners.

Friday, 10 December 2021

nobelfesten

Cancelled for a second year due to the pandemic, normally the Nobel Banquet (previously here and here) is held annually on this day (the anniversary of the death in 1896 of its benefactor, inspired to become a philanthropist after reading a premature obituary of himself that described him as a war profiteer, indeed having amassed his fortune from dynamite), the fรชte hosted in the Blue Hall of the rathaus of Stockholm for 1971 would have included amongst its guests Willy Brandt, chancellor of West Germany, Pavlo Neruda, Chilean poet and diplomat, Simon Kuznets, responsible for turning economics into an empirical, cyclical science, and Gรกbor Dรฉnes, inventory of among other things holography.

Wednesday, 1 December 2021

forget-the-year

Though in practise perhaps a bit premature and ill-advised given the milieu of a resurgence in COVID cases, we did nonetheless enjoy augmenting our vocabulary with the Japanese tradition of bลnenkai (ๅฟ˜ๅนดไผš) office parties that take place usually during December sponsored by companies for their employees that involves banqueting and a lot of drinking. As respite from the pandemic and the lengthening past or otherwise, not everyone is ready to embrace mandated festivities and bureikล—็„ก็คผ่ฌ›, nomunication—that is, loosened tongues facilitated through drink, nomu ๆ„ๅ‘ณ, which allows one to albeit temporarily, perhaps regrettably disregard hierarchy and distinctions in rank and seniority.

Friday, 15 October 2021

8x8

day-walker: monster lore invented by Hollywood—via Miss Cellania’s links 

tastes like pencil-shavings and heartbreak: niche Chicago liquor Jeppson’s Malรถrt  

vermithrax pejorative: dress up as Galen (Peter McNicol) from Dragonslayer plus other obscure, vintage costumes—via Super Punch  

modelleisenbahn: real-time model railroading with Hamburg’s transit system—via Maps Mania 

hedge rider: an etymological celebration of wizards, witches, warlocks and more 

๐Ÿ•‰: chanting, harmonised breathing and parasyphonic sounds  

mundane outfits: revisiting a tradition of dressing as highly specific yet relatable, everyday, social faux pas—an unfancy dress ball held in Japan and Taiwan 

the calls are coming from inside the building: a lampoon of the haunted house film trope

Sunday, 19 September 2021

make it another old-fashioned please

We quite enjoyed this guided tour of the digitised holdings of the Wine and Spirits Museum of รŽle de Bendor in south France from Messy Messy Chic with a trans-Atlantic focus on the American invention—or convention rather of the cocktail in their extensive archive of vintage mixology guides from dating from the 1820s to the 1940s, richly illustrated and full to the brim with drinks and sometimes substitute ingredients that limn a certain slice of history.
There are volumes with celebrities’ favourites, menus of famous watering-holes, all gauged for home entertaining (perhaps for us scoff-laws), like the above and rather forlorn frontispiece from William C. Feery’s 1934 Wet Drinks…. for Dry People, which includes one called the Bee’s Knees, one part gin to one part honey, well-mixed and served over ice shavings. Each of the dazzling covers opens and lets one browse the recipes and other tips inside. Peruse these guides and let us know if you discover a new and intriguing favourite. Leave out the cherry, leave out the orange, leave out the bitters and just make it straight rye!

Friday, 13 August 2021

6x6

clink clink: a snappy little animated short of guests at cocktail hour 

samarkand: an East German couple’s tour of Uzbekistan fifty years ago with photography from 1971 and 2021  

expectation management: a comprehensive look into how the Delta variant changes the pandemic endgame—via Kottke  

noah’s violin: the twelve metre long wooden stringed instrument is a floating stage, inaugurated along with Project Moses to protect Venice from flooding  

the rural juror: a spoof streaming service (see also)—via JWZ  

the effect is shattering: a vodka advertising campaign that became a snow clone

Saturday, 7 August 2021

bildersturm

Due to the above titled iconoclasm movement that left many Catholic churches bereft of their religious symbols and saintly relics from Protestant furore that sought to destroy what was regarded as idolatrous figures (see previously) during the Reformation of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Vatican ordered suitable replacements be found and promptly installed.

Thousands of skeletal remains were exhumed from the catacombs of Rome, lavishly dressed and decorated, like this day’s celebrant, Donatus of Mรผnstereifel, reportedly a second century Roman soldier and martyr. Quickly rising through the ranks after enlisting, Donatus (sharing his feast day with several other liked-named saints) was part of the famed XXII. Legion—known as Fulminatrix, the thundering ones, and was assigned to the personal security detail of Marcus Aurelius (previously). Engaged in the Marcomannic Wars on the Danube march, the legion was outnumbered and nearly defeated until saved by a sudden storm that frightened off the Goths and Samaritans. Although the emperor wanted to credit his magician with summoning the storm, Donatus insisted it was his Christian prayer circle and gave thanks to God. The emperor had them all killed. Said to have been entombed in the Catacombs of Saint Agnes, Donatus’ remains were re-discovered by Pope Innocent X in 1646 and translated to the town on the Rhein near Bonn, acclaimed patron and protector from lightning strikes and invoked for a good grape harvest. Popular throughout the Rhineland as well as Donauland, Donatus also enjoyed a cultus in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Luxembourg, Slovakia and Austria.

Sunday, 6 June 2021

overnighter: frรคnkische weinorte

H and I took a drive in familiar territory through the vineyards of Franconia in the Main River valley between Kitzigen and Schweinfurt, taking a couple of ferries that crossed the winding Main as it coursed through the hills and came to the storied vineyard there where we had previously been treated to a wine-tasting tour, after a visit of the town of Volkach with an ensemble of medieval buildings in its walked centre. 

Next we marvelled at the Mainschleife—a closed bend technically but a way to describe a river form with sinuous curves, otherwise a Mรคander, Meander, from the vantage point of the Vogelsberg, a small retreat and gastronomy at the top of a promontory. 

 

 

Fording the river with another ferry, we stopped next in the village of Escherndorf—another spot full of character and vintners plus a wedding chapel with a grotto on a hill overlooking the settlement below dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes, built after a Franciscan nun from Volkach made a pilgrimage there and returned with a keepsake, with the support of the original community on the Franco-Spanish border in the Pyrenees. Instead of the usual Stations of the Cross, the path up to the chapel was lined with decorated wine barrels and there was a giant cast that could be loaned out as a tiny party room, complete with coolers for the wine. 


Next we left for our last stop on the Weininseln, the Wine Islands with the village Sommerach, not only known for the viticulture and area monopoly for the Cloister Schwarzach (previously, which we didn’t visit this time around due to a dramatic shift in the weather) but also for the unique character of the estuaries and their protected status as nature reserves. 

Staying at a pitch just outside of one of the more famous wine-producers, regionally known for its Silvaner, I needed to self-administer my first COVID Schnelltests, letting it rest on the floorboard until we were sure it was negative—something unexpected but that I was happy to do to keep us all happy campers. We explored Sommerach some more, which was in the process of reopening itself and everyone was wonderfully day-drunk—last time we visited, it was ill-timed in the middle of their wine fest, a very serious and well-attended undertaking. 

The central part of the Old Town, flanked with cafes and wine-sellers was the church of Saint Eucharius and the monumental fountain featuring the archangel Michael—not Saint George—slaying a dragon. Returning to the campgrounds, we explored the shoreline and encountered a gaggle of strange ducks.
While I had noticed the odd tall—or long duck before, seeing them act as a group, not waddling but marching double-quick time headlong, H and I were amused and a little confused—learning later that this particular breed of mostly flightless, mostly quackless ducks are called Laufente, Indian Runner Ducks (possibly from Jakarta—see also—but no one really knows their origin, bred to be walked to market), which while prolific egg-layers don’t possess the instinct to nest or rear their young and so have to be watched over by their caretakers.

Sunday, 4 April 2021

they are not long—the days of wine and roses

Though separated by a considerable distance in the north and the southern part of modern Germany, it’s interesting to note, via the always engrossing Futility Closet, the kindred relationship between the oldest known rosebush and the oldest known uncorked bottle of wine. The Millennium Rose (der Tausendjรคhriger Rosenstock) grows in the apse of the Hildesheimer Dom—dedicated to the Assumption of Mary, and is a non-domesticated variety known as the wild dog, Rosa cainina. Hardier by degrees that cultivated garden varieties that usually only thrive for decades, this especially long-lived specimen is legendary, with Louis the Pious (Ludwig der Fromme), heir to the Holy Roman Empire after the death of his father Charlemagne, happened upon this rosebush after becoming separated from his hunting party. Sacred to the Saxon goddess Hulda, the lost emperor sought shelter there but offering a prayer to the Virgin Mary through a reliquary he carried with him. Ludwig rested and upon waking, he found his icon irretrievably stuck among the branches—taking this as a sign from the pagan goddess that she was to be replaced in veneration. The emperor’s entourage found him and Ludwig pledged that his city should be founded in this spot and constructed the cathedral around the rosebush. In March of 1945, Hildesheim was destroyed in an Allied bombing raid which razed the cathedral as well. The rose’s extensive root system was intact and began to flourish again the next season as the city was rebuilt. The Speyer wine bottle (Rรถmerwein) was recovered from a Roman tomb outside of the city (see also) in the mid 1800s and since dated to the fourth century of the common era. This grave good is contained in a glass vessel and is one-and-a-half litres in volume, two modern standard bottles and is shaped like an amphora with dolphins ornamenting the handles. There is no intention of opening it.

Saturday, 3 April 2021

7x7

treasureland adventures: an arcade game made for McDonald’s that’s a lot better than most licensed vehicles—see also  

campfire tales: Haunted Tik-Tok (see also) and the art of the scary narrative in new media  

self-defence for cowards: our social skills have atrophied but we still bid our time before we get back to old, awkward habits  

die frankfurter kรผche: more on the modern kitchen designed by Margarete Schรผtte-Lihotzky—see previously  

cave ร  vins: incredible wine collection hidden beneath a chicken coop 

look at me: heretofore unseen footage of John Lennon and Yoko Ono 

catch it if you can: a McDonald’s employee training video from 1972

Thursday, 25 March 2021

7x7

a tree grows in brooklyn: a map of New York’s great perennials  

no wine before its time: an interview with the director of Orson Welles’ infamous commercial for Paul Masson’s California champagne  

foley artists: the talented individuals who help make supplemental sounds for nature documentaries  

what level of wood panelling is this: McMansion Hell yearbook 1979—previously  

riding the rails: the portfolio of Wang Fuchun (RIP), celebrated photographer best known for capturing the narrative train travel  

schwarzschild radius: the Event Horizon Telescope—previously—takes another picture of the black hole  

hempire state: New York poised to legalise cannabis

Monday, 1 February 2021

cosmic bowl

Declaring that geometry preceded the origin of things and “was coeternal with the divine mind” and supplying God with the patterns for creation, our old friend Johannes Kepler was eager to insert and integration harmony and mathematics into the accepted world view and contrived a model that the famed astronomer believed would fully describe the Universe through a set of perfectly aligned shapes within one another.

To this end, in February of 1596 Kepler sought the patronage of Friedrich von Wรผrttemberg to not only forward his vision with continued studies and publications but also create an artifice and artefact as a demonstration—his model of the Cosmos set in silver with the planets cut of precious stones and dispense alcohol that corresponded to the celestial bodies on tap through unseen pipes—Mercury paired with brandy and Mars a vermouth &c. Wanting to compartmentalise the labour however of the craftsmen he commissioned and not failing to realise that the orbits of the planets were not spherical but rather ellipses, the pieces did not fit together as planned. Mortified by his mistake, Kepler redoubled his efforts and though not completely forsaking his quasi-mystical theories arrived on his revolutionary laws of planetary motion and moved away from the belief in the perfection of circular motion which the Copernican model espoused, culminating in three laws that still hold to this day.

Thursday, 14 January 2021

munchies

Though one might have the inclination to dismiss these findings as patently obvious, a US academic study shows a correlation between legalisation of recreation cannabis consumption and junk food sales—up to five percent. Whereas most accept that marijuana in itself is harmless if not beneficial, it does have unintended after effects that confirm stereotypical beliefs about smoking. As a counterbalance that rather tips the scales in the opposite direction, there is also as much as a twelve percent dip in alcohol sales found in the same jurisdictions. The snacks and drinks lobby peddled state legislatures with opposing overtures.

Wednesday, 23 December 2020

8x8

the santaland diaries: a holiday classic from David Sedaris 

by jove: more on the complex system of Jupiter and its moons—including Valetudo, which crosses between the prograde and retrograde orbitals—see previously  

mimicry and mutualism: the monkey slug caterpillar (Phobetron pithecium, the larva of the hag moth) that evolved to resemble a tarantula  

where do i begin: Erich Segal’s Love Story at fifty

posse commmutatus: a fresh tranche of pardons (previously) from the outgoing and impeached Trump is an assault and insult on justice 

tree fm: for those who can’t readily go forest bathing or hug a perennial friend, tune into the soundscape of woods around the world—via Things Magazine  

pork-barrel politics: Trump frames riders in COVID aid bill as disgraceful after seven months of contentious negotiation, demands revision 

suggested serving: wintry cocktail and hot toddy recipes from eastern Europe

Saturday, 12 December 2020

ััƒั…ะพะน ัะฝะฒะฐั€ัŒ

Whilst likely true and sound medical advice for taking any vaccine to optimise immune response and ensure your body has as few distractions and detractors as possible, officials’ arguably belated warnings of not mixing Russia’s Sputnik V with alcohol, we learn via The Morning News, recommending an absention period of eighty-days—two weeks prior and forty days subsequent to getting the shot, has caused some to recoil and question whether they can swear-off or at least cut back (particularly during this festive season), of course taking the debate to social-media with anecdotal evidence for and against.

Thursday, 19 November 2020

vin de primeur

Thanks to our faithful chronicler we are reminded that today—the third Thursday of November—has been set aside as the universal release date of the season’s Beaujolais nouveau, in a tradition among vintners of that region in Burgundy in the Saรดne Valley that dates back to Roman times with toasting another successful harvest first among the grape-growers formalised in the 1960s from a friendly competition among winemakers to get their vintage first to market. “Le Beaujolais est arrive!” giving the certified varietal (see also) a uniform time of first uncorking. The shelf life of these wines is only one to two years.

Saturday, 14 November 2020

palรฆomixology

The ever adventurous team of explorers at Atlas Obscura bring us the story of a university palรฆontologist celebrating his first published paper—on archaeopteryx feathers—was taken to commemorate his accomplishment with a signature cocktail for the occasion, sharing the recipe and toasting remotely with his friends and colleagues over a video conference call. Afterwards the hobby bartender was inspired to create more drinks honouring other prehistoric icons including Lucy and a ginkgo mimosa. What other dinosaur and dinosaur-adjacent cocktails might you mix up? Much more to discover at the link up top. Here’s a slightly modified version of the namesake drink of the Urvorgel (see previously) with appropriately German ingredients.

  • Two full shot-glasses (a shooter glass—three ounces) worth of black-berry or black currant (Schwarze Johannisbeere) soda or syrup 
  • One shot Jรคgermeister 
  • One shot lime juice 
  • One shot of Stone Fruit (Pfirsich oder รคhnliches) syrup 
  • One dash of activated charcoal plus 3 dashes of bitters 

Mix all the ingredients in a couple (a broader, shallow stemmed flute) glass, saving the charcoal for last and garnish with a black feather—the colour of the plumage (the cocktail by the same name is however brandy, Cointreau, vermouth plus bitters) being one of the conclusions drawn from the paper.

Wednesday, 4 November 2020

i got an empty cup, pour me some more

Though attested in the figurative sense to mean unfinished business since the nineteenth century and associated with the deleterious effects of too much drink until the turn of the century and the end of the Victorian-era, it is most likely a folk etymology, a backronym popularised by George Orwell’s 1933 Down and Out in Paris and London that the term hangover came from the Two Penny Hangover—the reported practise of draping the homeless or inmates of workhouses over a length of rope for a night’s accommodations. More comfortable that sitting up for the night or on resting on the cold stone floor—also maximising the number of lodgers per square metre—but the rope was promptly severed at five in the morning with the unfortunates tumbling and sent on their way. Language check and illustration both bookendings from Messy Nessy’s latest peripatetic internet journeys—with a lot more to discover at the link above.