In 1865, temperance advocate William Muir obtained a British patent (No. 1 for 1865) for what he called "Improvements in the construction of public houses." Although whether they were actually improvements depended, I suppose, on one's point of view.
Muir wanted to improve pubs first by constructing their front walls out of plate glass in order to make the interior visible to people passing by. This, he believed, would "to a great extent check drunkenness and the indecent behaviour of the persons obtaining refreshment."
Second, he wanted to make the entrances only two feet wide in order "to prevent, as far as possible, the entrance of females with extensive steel crinolines." Why prevent women wearing crinolines? He didn't elaborate. Was this some kind of code for keeping prostitutes out of the pubs?
I don't think many publicans rushed to adopt his improvements.
A new alcoholic beverage, "Insect Sour," on sale in Japan boasts that its main ingredient is "giant water bug extract". These water bugs are apparently popular among bug aficionados because they have "a sweet, almost fruity, flavor comparable to some types of shellfish like shrimp."
If you happen to still own a bottle of this stuff, I'm sure you could easily sell it for a couple of hundred dollars, because it's definitely a collector's item. As Paul Kirchner has reported in his book Oops!:
Gary Kirkland wrote about Kmarto for the Gainesville sun and received a number of calls from area residents who still treasure their vintage bottles of the stuff. Oddly, it didn't seem to have occurred to any of them to actually drink it—it was kept solely for its shock value. Many feel it broadens the scope of a well-stocked wine rack. One family uses it as the centerpiece for all important family photos—weddings, reunions, birthdays, etc.—to give events that special élan. In another family it has become traditional, whenever an expensive wine is served, to acknowledge that, of course, it cannot compare with the debonair-yet-somehow-impudent Kmarto.
In the mid-1970s the Smirnoff vodka company began using the 'before and after' technique to sell its product. The advertising campaign consisted of escapist photographs accompanied by slogans such as I thought the Kama Sutra was an Indian restaurant until I discovered Smirnoff. (The slogan originally had the additional rejoinder The effect is shattering which was eventually banned probably due to the allusion to 'getting smashed'.) The slogan turned out to be the inspiration of the graffitists of the nation as catchphrases such as the following began appearing on walls around the country:
I thought innuendo was an Italian suppository until I discovered Smirnoff.
I thought cirrhosis was a type of cloud until I discovered Smirnoff.
However it was not long before the graffitists began to abandon the formula, first by substituting the word Smirnoff with other items:
I thought Nausea was a novel by Jean-Paul Sartre until I discovered Scrumpy.
Soon, the caption began to move more radically away from the matrix, as more items were changed. In the next example there is no allusion to drink whatsoever:
I used to think I was an atheist until I discovered I was God.
Although Smirnoff jokes are now practically obsolete, the I thought A was B until I discovered C formula has now frozen into the English language as a semi-idiom. Today we can find graffiti (or indeed hear asides) such as:
I used to talk in cliches but now I avoid them like the plague
in which the original matrix is barely recognizable.
Below is another Smirnoff ad from the same series.
Those persons, either male or female, who can prove direct descent from an individual who conducted a tavern, inn, ordinary, or other type of hostelry prior to 4 July 1776 (within any of the the American Colonies that existed at that time).
According to their website, the society was founded in 1962 by Walter Lee Shepard and the late Kenneth Stryker-Rodda. As of 2002, they had more than 1000 members.
There's a $200 fee to apply to join. But if you apply and can't satisfactorily prove descent from a colonial barkeep, you'll only get a portion of that fee back.
A 44-year-old man presented in May, 2001, with muscle cramps. He had no medical history of note, but volunteered the fact that he had been drinking up to 4 L of black tea per day over the past 25 years. His preferred brand was GoldTeefix (Tekanne, Salzburg, Austria). Since this type of tea had given him occasional gastric pain, he changed to Earl Grey (Twinings & Company, London, UK), which he thought would be less harmful to his stomach. 1 week after the change, he noticed repeated muscle cramps for some seconds in his right foot. The longer he drank Earl Grey tea, the more intense the muscle cramps became.
After 3 weeks, they also occurred in the left foot. After 5 weeks, muscle cramps had spread towards the hands and the right calf. Occasionally, he observed fasciculations of the right adductor pollicis and gastrocnemius. Additionally, he noted distal paraesthesias in all limbs, and a feeling of pressure in his eyes, associated with blurred vision, particularly in darkness...
The patient assumed that there was a relation between his symptoms and his tea consumption, and stopped drinking Earl Grey after 5 months, reverting to pure black tea again. Within 1 week, his symptoms had completely disappeared. Symptoms also remained absent if he completely withdrew from tea, which he did in the nature of experiment, for about a week. He found that his symptoms did not recur as long as he consumed no more than 1 L of Earl Grey daily.
When last seen in November, 2001, neurological examination, nerve conduction studies, and electromyography were normal. He was still drinking 2 L of plain black tea daily (his entire fluid intake), and had no complaints.
The moral of his story is that 2 liters of tea a day is apparently fine. But 4 liters is asking for trouble.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.