January 4th, 2008

Devil, incubus, gentleman, martini, scoundrel

Absinthe legalized

It's Legal: The Green Drink Absinthe
Reporting: Heather Brown

(WCCO) Champagne might be the traditional glass to tip back on New Year's Eve, but for the first time, a notorious liquor is for sale. It's a green drink called absinthe and this summer, the Food and Drug Administration made it legal in the United States.

Surdyk's in Northeast Minneapolis began selling it last week. Forty people waited in line before the store even opened to buy a $75 bottle.

"It's terribly popular," said Surdyk's Andy Hall. "We've sold out twice now."

Absinthe was banned in the U.S. in 1915 because it's made with wormwood, a root that contains thujone. Thujone has long been considered to cause hallucinations. Van Gogh and Picasso were reportedly fans of absinthe.

However, in 1996, an American chemist tested absinthe drinks and found they didn't contain as much thujone as previously thought.

"Some better science that's been done in the past 15 years or so has shown us that this ingredient is not poisonous or hallucinogenic," said Hall. "If there were any hallucinations that were involved with the use of absinthe in the past, it was probably due to other things."

Earlier this year, the FDA decided to allow regulated absinthe. Three products are now available in the U.S. and have sold out quickly.

Cindy Kangus came to Surdyk's looking for a bottle for New Years.

"We thought this would be a fun liquor to have as a talking point tonight," she said. "It's harder to find than the Wii game."

Thomas Liquor in St. Paul has been selling an imitation version of absinthe for years.

"It doesn't have wormwood in it and it's not made by the strict French rule on how it needs to be made," said Dan Horan of Thomas Liquor.

On Monday afternoon, he had 4 bottles available. The store received a 6 bottle shipment last week. It sells for $65 at Thomas Liquor and $75 at Surdyk's under the brand name Lucid.

"It's got a cult following. It's very much an underground thing," said Hall. "I think it appeals mostly to people who are into the arts scene."

It has a mellow flavor that tastes like licorice. One glass, made with sugar and three parts water, has the alcohol equivalent of a glass of wine.

The Green Demoness... This is great news, even though the thujone is reduced. Perhaps this will open the gateway to real absinthe as originally imbibed at Absinthe Houses, enjoyed by artistic luminaries of note through history. A personal recommendation is Logan Fils for that truly remarkable arcane experience. Lights a wonderfully dark blue/black flame in the shot glass before pouring into The Elixer of Ecstasy... and otherwise as a great indulgence overall, mixed with a sugar cube, the gentle flame melting it into the glass creating that milky nectar...

Draconis Blackthorne, shadowgram, Dracomet

San Francisco Zoo reopens 9 days after tiger attack

San Francisco Zoo reopens 9 days after tiger attack
Robert Durell, Los Angeles Times

SAN FRANCISCO -- Under glowering skies Thursday, visitors started streaming back into the San Francisco Zoo, reopened nine days after a fatal tiger attack.

Within minutes, several visitors had placed bouquets and other mementos at a makeshift shrine just inside the zoo's entrance.

A zoo spokeswoman said memorials would be welcomed both for Carlos Sousa Jr., the 17-year-old from San Jose who died, and for Tatiana, the 4-year-old Siberian tiger who was shot by police after mauling Sousa and his two friends, who survived.

"Tatiana was always friendly," said Susan Pettit, a Santa Clara homemaker who gingerly set down photographs, a stuffed animal and flowers in the tiger's memory. "I never saw her act aggressively even once."

"The big cats were like my own kids," added Pettit, who has visited the zoo once a week for three years. "I loved them all."

Police are investigating what prompted Tatiana to vault over the 12 1/2 -foot barrier around her enclosure.

Mark Geragos, an attorney for the two brothers who survived the attack, has denied speculation that the victims provoked the animal.

A report in the San Francisco Chronicle on Thursday quoted a visitor who said she saw a group of young men taunting lions the afternoon of the attack.

Jennifer Miller told the newspaper that she later recognized Sousa from newspaper photographs as being part of the group, although she said she did not see him participate in the teasing.

Sgt. Steve Mannina, a San Francisco police spokesman, confirmed that the department had twice talked with Miller, but would not say whether her account had been corroborated or disclose any details of what she had told investigators.

Miller said there were four young men at the big-cat grottoes, but only Sousa and his friends, Paul Dhaliwal, 19, and Kulbir Dhaliwal, 23, have been publicly identified.

Mannina also confirmed that a vodka bottle was found in the car that Sousa and his friends drove to the zoo. He said the results of toxicology tests will not be released before the investigation is completed.

Exactly how and why Tatiana escaped are still matters of speculation. Mannina said no slingshots, laser pointers, BB guns or other devices were found, despite at least one published report to the contrary.

"We don't believe those things were involved," he said.

At the zoo Thursday, workers were tearing into the top of the big-cat walls with jackhammers, preparing to install glass panels that will raise their height to 19 feet.

The big cats are being kept indoors and won't be on view to the public until work on the outdoor enclosures is complete.

Shirley Hardy of nearby Pacifica was among the morning's first visitors. She said she wanted to bring family members to the zoo the day after Christmas but was thwarted by its sudden shutdown.

Hardy, a school district payroll technician and frequent zoo patron, said she sees people trying to get the animals' attention from time to time, and even admitted occasionally mugging for the monkeys.

"Maybe we'll all learn to be more respectful," she said. "Maybe it's a lesson all around."

"When in another's lair, show him respect or else do not go there." - 3rd Rule of The Earth, ASLV.

It is truly despicable how that tiger was treated by these obnoxious organisms. In My opinion, they received exactly what they deserved, and are lucky they did not receive even more of that tiger's justified ire, who was just defending herself against the onslaught of acorns and other objects being pelted at her with a slingshot. At least she eliminated one of them, and got a couple of good bites on the others besides. They should make up for it, and she certainly should not have been euthanized! Cameras should be placed on the visitors, to regulate their behavior, lest they ever disturb the peace of mind of these magnificent animals again.


Snake mishap

Australian snake misses the birdie, swallows golf balls

SYDNEY (AFP) — Emergency surgery was performed to save an Australian snake that swallowed four golf balls after mistaking them for chicken eggs, a veterinarian said Thursday.

A couple discovered the one-metre (three-foot) python at their property with four bulges in its stomach and realised it had eaten golf balls placed on nests in a chicken coop to calm broody hens.

They took the ailing serpent to Currimbin Wildlife Sanctuary in Queensland state where senior veterinarian Michael Pyne safely removed the balls.

"Without surgery, it would have certainly died," Pyne told AFP.

"The golf balls had travelled as far as they could in the snake's system and it was destined for a slow, painful death without surgery.

"You could clearly see the golf balls on the X-rays, so we knew what we were dealing with."

Pyne said the snake, which is not considered dangerous to humans, was recovering well after the surgery late last month and would soon be released back into the wild, near the property where it was originally discovered.

"I think the people who brought it in will have to make their chicken coop a little more snake-proof once it gets back," he said.

File Photo

Mr. Snake Slithersworth says:

"Well, mistakes happen to the best of us. I was just looking for those hard-to-find pickled eggs, being that they looked a bit different, and thought that they were rather stale. I'll have those darned pickled eggs yet!"

File video of Mr. Slithersworth having a snack:

"Now thats how you eat an egg!" ~ Slithersworth.