Coming soon….

Hello everyone. 

So, several months ago, I went in with several of my online absinthe friends  in purchasing a century-old bottle of Junod. Vinnie and I shot a video review for it. Sadly, the quality of the video was somewhat sub-standard, as I later discovered. Pity, since that was not only my first taste of a pre-ban absinthe, but a taste of something very old and very special.

Well, I have a second chance. The same bunch of guys went in on a bottle of Pernod Fils, again 100+ years old. I got my sample a few weeks ago, but then promptly got sick and didn’t have it in me to try it. Well, I’m feeling better now, so Vinnie and I are going to try it again this weekend. Oh yeah, and Vinnie will be talking now.

I also have received a ton of other samples from a friend of mine in Europe which will need reviewing, to say nothing of a few bottles I acquired from absinthes.com. All in all lots of material to work with.

So, stay tuned, friends! Some fun stuff coming up.

“I’m still here, miss.”*

Hello, children.

Just a quick note to let everyone know that I’m still here.

Currently, I am scrambling to complete a rather complicated piece of art for an upcoming art show I am having in Waterloo, Ontario. That being said, I do have 2 interviews ready to be turned into articles. The first will be with my friend, the rather brilliant artist Vincent Marcone (AKA My Pet Skeleton) on his film work, his visual history and his musical projects. The other one…well, we’ll just keep everyone in suspense for that one. What’s more, there are going to be a handful of new absinthe reviews coming up as well (imagine that, an absinthe blog that actually writes about absinthe!), so stay tuned, folks.!

* For those who don’t know, the title is one of Humphrey Bogart’s lines from “The African Queen”. I always loved Bogie’s wit.

Edward Gorey: 1925-2000

Yesterday was the birthday of Edward Gorey. If ever there was an artist and author whose work merited an absinthe toast, it would be he.

Here is an artist who received “negligible” art training and who yet created some of the most brilliant in surreal and macabre stories and illustrations ever to grace the page.

I first happened upon Gorey’s works completely at random when I stopped into Pages in Toronto and saw The Gashleycrumb Tinies sitting in a rather unassuming counter display. Any book that small that has Death on the front cover cannot be bad, so I bought it without even opening it.

Then I saw the first page.

"A is for Amy who fell down the stairs"

Something about the delicacy with which the illustration was made stirred me. The texture of the rug, the depth of the shadows, the blankness of the child’s face. There was something all so Lewis Carrol about the whole thing that I somehow fell in love with it. I memorized the names of all of the children and what happened to them with the same diligence of a grieving father cataloging the fates of his own.

Then I began to explore his works further. Hitchcock could barely manage such a subtle flavour of the mysterious with a fragile undertone of menace. I found myself being deeply inspired by the utter randomness of some of his passages; some of which had the illusion of being utterly out of context, some of which were complete and utter balderdash. Either way, there was something utterly delicious in the madness he presented to the world.

He was The Addams Family to Dr. Suess’s Leave it to Beaver and he was more grim than Grimm.

Much to my ill fortune, I found I had become fully acquainted with his work just after his death. I was more than a little annoyed at his impudence. I mean someone comes along who can truly appreciate your art and your sinister wit and you go off and die? jerk.

Nevertheless, I think you can be forgiven. Few artists have the potency and the power to be able to evoke Victorian austerity and eldricht horror with such romantic necromancy. Few authors can pen words that inspire one to run and play in the yard with skulls and umbrellas and grizzly bears.

I salute the spirit of Mr. Gorey, wherever he may be. His work has taught me much, in essence, if not in style.

Slight delay with apologies

Good day, humble visitor.

I’m afraid I must apologize, but for the remainder of the month of August, entries will have to be suspended, as my love and I are preparing for a large convention at the end of the month (if anyone is planning on attending the Toronto FanExpo, visit the Gruesome Enterprises booth in the Rue Morgue Festival of Fear section).

Early September, we’ll be back on track with the Lambert’s Basement interview, the Taboo absinthe interview and a bunch of reviews.

Wish us luck, and see you next month.

First Experiences

As this blog will be focused on absinthe, in review and in news, it might be a good idea to start off by relating some of my personal history with this undeservedly-notorious elixir.

I first heard of absinthe through various forms of gothic media, notably the cinematic adaptations of Dracula and Interview with the Vampire. I had little inkling what it was, specifically, and I filed it away as being synonymous with drinkable opiates and the like. My curiosity was a bit more piqued by an old acquaintance of mine, who worked in a record store here in Kitchener who mentioned to me that he and his friends were going to sit in a field, drink some absinthe and read gothic poetry.

"The Green Muse" by Albert Maignan

When I put the question to him about its effects, his response was a comparisson to a cannibis high. To this day, I have yet to confirm this description, as I have never experienced a cannibis high (and have no real desire to). The fact that thujone (the chemical that gave absinthe it’s infamy in decades past) is molecularly similar to THC could help to confirm it, though I seem to remember reading a chemical expert saying that, on a molecular level, the reaction should be different.

But I digress.

The next time I came in contact with the idea was an eponymous song by the martial industrial/folk band Blood Axis on their album “The Gospel of Inhumanity”, which was lyrically composed of 19th Century poetry, one pro-absinthe, one anti-. The liner notes featured, as its illustration, “The Green Muse” by Albert Maignan. In spite of the fact that the latter half of the song and the painting in particular could be considered cautionary, both the image and the song were the anchor that firmly docked the Green Faerie at the pier of my soul.

Several articles read on the subject later, the opportunity was finally presented to me to try it. A good friend of mine in Hamilton, named Joel (whom I have not seen in ages) invited me over for an afternoon of movies and drinks. I barely consumed any alcohol at all, at this point in my life, but my curiosity had gotten the better of me. That afternoon, in fact, presented me with three things close to my heart – the films of The Brothers Quay, the films of Jan Svankmajer and the emerald elixir that would be my friend for the next decade, plus. Thanks, Joel. I owe you.

My initial impression after having consumed a glass was not that good of one. I loathed licorice (still do) and the closeness of anise to it in flavour did not endear it to me. Nevertheless, I filed it away for future reference as something I had experienced and would be willing to try again.

Years later, I bought myself a bottle of the same brand Joel has served me (Absente, specifically). I ended up developing a fondness for it and subsequently found a certain love for the aesthetic and technology surrounding it (the period artwork, the literature inspired by it, the glasses and spoons developed to enhance the experience).

I have yet to try more than a handful of different brands, alas. As I get my hands on new ones (I live in Canada, so my options are limited), I will post reviews of them. In the meantime, I’ll review what I can and offer what insight into it that I am able to.

Until next time.