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Showing posts from February, 2012

Absinthe: Its History and Grand Taste Test

"What difference is there between a glass of absinthe and a sunset?" --Oscar Wilde

Absinthe, as we know it, was invented by Pierre Ordinaire, a French doctor who lived in Switzerland, in 1792. It was originally used as a magical cure-all medicine until 1797 when the first distillery was opened. Through the 19th century it would continually grow in popularity, especially in France, where its eminence would briefly surpass wine.

It is made primarily from distilled wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), but also includes hyssop, anise, fennel seed, angelica root, lemon balm, melissa, and juniper. Wormwood has been used medicinally for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians, Romans, Greeks and Semites all used it for different purposes and it is mentioned in the bible.

It was the preferred drink of many of the greatest artists of the later Victorian era. Everyone from Van Gough and Manet to Hemingway and Picasso chose the Green Fairy as their muse in its heyday. It is for that r…

Le Horla (1887)

Some say that Maupassant was himself half insane at the time of its writing. He did have syphilis for some time prior and did make a suicide attempt about five years after writing it, but are those the only details we should judge the story by? Paranoia seems to drip from the pages of this short story; is that due merely to the author’s delusions or to his skill at his craft? One must separate the artist from his creation in order to be wholly enveloped in the art.

Le Horla is one of Maupassant’s finest short stories. It is written as the diary of a man slowly slipping into either insanity or the grip of an invisible being living in his house. It all begins with “a beautiful three-master” ship sailing down the river near his house. Afterwards, he begins having unexplained feverish attacks over the next week. Then the unnamed narrator awakens one night during some type of vampiric encounter, which leaves him feeling even more apathetic and fatigued. These encounters continue, and even…