Fan Food and Drink

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There is history and there is truth.  Those of you interested in history should enter any unfamiliar terms into a search engine, which will probably whisk you to the relevant portion of the on-line Fancyclopedia.  Eventually, this URL will appear in the Links page, but not right now.  I believe in FIJAGH rather than FIAWOL and do other mysterious things with some of my time.  These are stories, and therefore, in their way, truer than history for they have been stripped of the irrelevant and ornamented to highlight the the important.  Of the secrets of the birth of legends, we will not speak: Some things should remain mysterious.

Scroll down for Blog and the Rocketeers, The Best Drink In Existence, and The Sunset Steamboat, as well as links to Beer Tales.  Real Soon Now: Other Crottled Greeps, Philadelphia Crottled Greeps, and even more Tales From the Outer Limits where Fandom Feeds and Drinks.

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Let Them Eat ... Crottled Greeps

Hear and listen, oh my fellow fen, for this is the story as I was told it, as I remember it, and as I tell it to you.  It was in the past, not the distant, distant past of First Fandom, but the past of the fifties, when a fan editor published a cartoon that asked the question "But if you don't like crottled greeps, what did you order them for?"

Indeed, said a hundred fans as one, and then two hundred, and yet again three hundred.

One fan, who had not been reading Ursula Le Guin (because she had not yet been published and was not to be for  nearly another twenty years) had nonetheless grasped an essential principle of her work.  He said, "There is a Name for this thing.  Where there is a Name, there is a Thing, and where there is a Thing, there is a Name.  Therefore this Thing called crottled greeps must be made real."

And he went down the dark, dark stairs (for it was night and he had been reading fanzines in bed) and he looked around his kitchen, which was less well-supplied with delicacies than he would have liked, and he essayed the First Crottled Greep.  Wholemeal biscuits he had, and a jar of cheese spread with bacon bits.  He put the two together and looked at the result.  It lay on the plate like any cracker with cheese, too undistinguished to bear so distinguished a Name as crottled greeps.

"Oh," he said, and sighed, and sat down on the kitchen chair.

He was discouraged.  He had happened upon what might be his one true chance for fannish fame and his larder was bare.  The minor matter of it being a Thursday evening with his paycheck due Friday might doom him to anonymity forever.  Tomorrow might be too late, for he knew a hundred other fannish minds would be at work, awake or asleep, puzzling over what Thing a crottled greep might be.

Then, "Oh!" he said, and laughed, and rose up from his kitchen chair.

It was, as mathematicians say, a forced choice, but it would be unique.  Wiping the butter knife (which he kept in the refrigerator to avoid extra washing) clean with the dish towel, he stood on the chair and reached into the deepest depths of a high cabinet to pull forth a Christmas gift he had always meant to get around to tasting.

It was a small pot, sealed with paraffin, with a cloth tied over it.  It was labeled in his deceased Aunt Lily's handwriting "Strawberry" and "1941."  Carefully he undid the string, and set aside the cloth.  Carefully he pried at the edge of the disc that sealed the contents.  Lifting it away, he put it to one side and took up a blob of the ancient jam.  It smelled of strawberry fields (an observation that carried no overtones, for the Beatles, too, had not yet come let alone gone, so distant was that time) and with the utmost care he placed the dab in the center of the cheese which was upon the cracker.

"Behold," he said, "I have made the First Crottled Greep."  He ate a rather large number of greeps before spending the rest of the night filling out postcards so that he might be the first to register his discovery with all of fandom that he knew.  When the dawn came, he crawled between his sheets, a smear of jam on one cheek, and slept, for he knew he had become a Trufan and what man (or woman, although those were somewhat sexist times) could ask for more?

(Apologies to Rudyard Kipling and assorted other authors/Catherine Mintz for the 1999 celebration.)

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Blog and the Rocketeers

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, in short it was late adolescence in a time when one of the tests of manhood or womanhood was drinking, but not too much was known by the young about the finer points of this arcane art.  In exact point of fact, none of the participants in the ritual about which I write had ever drunk anything stronger than beer.  British beer.

That it was a dark and dreary night in late November, with a froth of clouds being blown in from the ocean, did not daunt the members of the Rocketeers Science Fiction Society.  Indeed the vileness of the weather and the television reception awoke in them a great desire to be among their fellows as planned.  A few, still young or impecunious enough to still be living in their parents' houses, relieved the liquor cabinet of their contributions, for the party was BYOB.

Others, older or richer, sallied forth to the nearest liquor store, where most of them, appalled by the prices, bought the cheapest booze available, applying the true test of the connoisseur: How much real alcohol was to be obtained for the least money?  Using the same criteria as those huddled in vacant buildings and under bridges, they bought much the same quality of goods even if they did not expect the same results.

And there the matter might have rested had it not been for the host.  Eager that his party be a success, he harkened back to the days of his childhood, and found a punchbowl big enough for all his guests.  True, in other circumstances, it had been called a washtub, and in recent years it had spent its time upended in the back corner of the basement.

But it was large and it and made a fine show in the center of the card table at the center of the room.  It a festive spirit, he hung a few of last year's Christmas decorations here and there, thinking "planets and stars," and hoped someone thought to bring snack food as well as booze.  He was to be largely disappointed in this desire for the RSFS was about to taste the real thing and had no attention to spare for details.

One by one, then in couples and pairs, the revelers arrived, and as they did their host told them to empty their contributions into the tub.  All went well with the inexpensive, many-times blended red wines as they met and mingled.  The bottle of vodka, too, was congenial, or at least unnoticeable, among the other ingredients.

But when the bottle of Fine Old French Brandy was poured in, a strange mist arose above the mixture.  And when the bottle of Fine Old Spanish Sherry joined the rest, the mist was seen to writhe and coil most ominously.  Since one of the last to arrive brought with him a cake of dry ice and added it to the brimming bowl, the odd vapors pouring over the brim were less noticeable than they might otherwise have been.

The first servings having been scooped into paper cups that emerged, dripping and inviting to the curious, they were drunk.  "Doesn't taste like much of anything," remarked one.  "No?" said another, "What's it supposed to taste like?"  "Bit sweet for my taste," said another.  "It's not beer," said another with a freshly-coined sneer, "it's wine."  "Mostly," added the host cautiously, having noticed a bottle of Scotch join the uneasy brew.

No one gave any special thought to the fact that the one among them old enough to have had a drink often, for he had a job and made a living wage, had retreated into a comfortable corner chair.  There, his cup untouched beside him, he made free with the host's collection of books.  Since he took no further part in the proceedings, we will not mention him again other than to observe that older is sometimes wiser.

When the novelty of the first cupful or two had worn off, someone proposed that they bob for apples in the tub.  Swarming through the house, they found no apples, but a can of ancient tennis balls was deemed a suitable substitute, and all three spheres were soon dipping and doffing in the punch as eager mouths tried to close on them.

I know I said the Older Fan would not be mentioned again, and yet I find it so significant in view of later events that he roused himself to peer over the top pages of the book he was furiously reading, shuddered, and withdraw, that I will not be bound by my intentions.  Having taken that one look, he settled so deeply into his chair that he might have been described as almost lying in it, deaf to the world, wandering on the banks of a Martian canal while sweet bells chimed in the distance.

Around him the party began to get going, with a few of the planets broken by dancers leaping and gyrating to the steady rhythm from the record player.  A few more decorations were jarred free by decibels and fell to the floor, where they spangled the worn carpet in a most festive manner.  A brisk game of bare-handed catch did for the reminder.

Because they were somewhat too large and resilient besides, no one had any success at capturing the tennis balls.  Still, the effort made RSFS thirsty and jocularly quarrelsome, so that the level in the tub sank steadily.  It was nearly midnight when the Host inquired who had removed the tennis balls, for in the shallow layer of fluid left in the tub there might be a better chance of someone taking the prize: the last bag of crisps.

All denied having removed the balls.  A few, of a more thoughtful cast of mind, or slightly behind the others in consumption, grew pensive and drew away from the no longer brimming bowl.  "Let's go out," said someone, and a fierce hunger came upon all of them.  They coated, hatted, and scarfed themselves against the cold and went forth in search of provender, the host among them.

Only two wended their way elsewhere, for the Oldest Fan had volunteered to walk the Youngest Fan, who was having trouble standing, home.  This really is the last time we will mention Oldest Fan, other than to say that he delivered the Youngest Fan to his parents' doorstep somewhat disheveled and smelling strongly of after dinner mints.  Which was curious, for mints had formed no part of the what the host and his guests had provided.

The wee hours of night came and home the fans went, mostly to their single beds and single dreams.  Rosy-cheeked dawn came and went, and it  became a fine, bright early winter day.  "Oh," said the Rocketeers, very nearly as one, for the stimulus came at the same time.  A bright, glaring light that seemed to lance their exquisitely tender brains.

The Oldest Fan, and this certainly is the last time we will mention him, woke, and rolled out of bed, for he had a job to go to and work that must be done.  He would keep his own troubled nightmares in which the spirits of the Fine Old Brandy and the Fine Old Sherry had largely figured, swearing vengeance upon those who had defiled them, to himself.

For the Oldest Fan knew it was nothing but his imagination and that the amazing hangovers his fellow Rocketeers would boast of, much, much later in their lives, were nothing but the way the world is.  They had nothing to do with the vengeance sworn by two old bottles dressed as nobles carrying tennis rackets.  That was nothing but his dream-fuddled mind.  He was actually somewhat annoyed, having hoped to dream of beautiful Martian woman, with cat-like clever faces.

It was several days before anyone was willing to think too hard or too often of the the RSFS party, and when they came together they found only the Youngest Fan had a name for the brew they had drink.  "Blog," he called it with a pensive expression, and, discouraged by the hint of amusement in the Oldest Fan's eye, no one challenged him.  So blog it became.

Later, of course the tale became a Legend, rather than a Story, and was told quite differently than my simple tale with its plain facts.

(Apologies to Charles Dickens, a sometime friend of Lord Bulwer-Lytton, and to assorted other authors/Catherine Mintz for the 1999 celebration.)

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The Best Drink in Existence
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It is Douglas Adams whom one must praise or blame for what knowledge we have of the best drink in existence.  I speak of course of the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster, which is compounded of a list of exotic ingredients, none of which is currently, at least officially, available on Earth.  Considering the numbers of UFO's and the behavior of the occasional high government office holder, one might speculate, but it is facts and not fancy which must speak for us to know the truth.

My dear reader, there being no admitted facts to consider in the case, there is nothing to explore.

However, since one will from time to time encounter something which is not named simple blog, but Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster, it seems wise to mention the effects of the brew.  Adams, our only source in the matter under discussion, paraphrases The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy thus:  "the effect of drinking is like having your brains smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped around a large gold brick."

He also mentions "what voluntary organizations exist to help you rehabilitate afterward."  There being none with 800 numbers listed for Earth, suitable caution is urged for the casually curious when it comes to meddling with things Man is Not Yet Meant to Consume.

(Apologies, not to A. Conan Doyle, but to Sherlock Holmes himself, who would surely have found an answer to the question, lead the search where it might.  I, not nearly so brave, offer a tip of the metaphorical hat to H. P. Lovecraft, a person who always urged suitable caution upon those who would venture into inner and outer space.  We owe a wonderful trove of stories to his having placed his warnings at the end of most of his tales, rather than the beginning/Catherine Mintz for the 1999 celebration.)
 
 

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It is only as it should be that there is competition for the title "The Best Drink In Existence."  Herewith, not merely what it is, but a story that demonstrates why it is neck and neck in the competition and that there are other perils....

But I will let the tale speak for itself in the voice of Fred Schütz.  (Catherine Mintz)

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As I, like every year on June the 21th at 9 p. m.—local time which, if you care to look it up in the AAA (Authenticated Astronomical Almanach), happens to coincide with sidereal time—toasted Fandom the world over and the sinking sun's dazzling rays imbued the precious liquid in my glass with celestial fires, making it appear as if raised into a rainbow all its own, I was reminded of the absolutely and irrefutably most marvelously mind-blowing drink ever to wet the gullet of man, woman, or alien, and I am moved to tell you of how it came into the world's ken, so hark:
 
 

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The Sunset Steamboat

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The curvaceous redhead put her elbow on the bar and sought the barman's eyes.  "Can a body get a drink around here?"

"What's your poison?"  He leaned forward until he seemed to lie on the bar top and stared, his head inches from her face, as if trying to hypnotize her. Her eyes, he thought, are like a Kopfoltine mountain lake: clearest water made black by depth with a green overlay like the shadow cast by the surrounding trees.

Kopfolts are the outstandingest service people in the universe, only you must not allow them to touch you; their skins exude an enzyme which has a hallucinogenic effect on humans.  This one was almost too close.  She produced a crinkling bill and raised it in front of her face, letting the stiff paper fall against his nose.  "How about a sunset steamboat?"

"Hey, a spender!"  His face expressionless, he extracted the bill carefully from her fingers, then placed a large tumbler before her.  The glass was half-filled with an amber liquid.

"What is it?"   She kept a keen eye on his rapid digitations.

"Mars whiskey, What else," he replied.  "Malted, of course!"  He dropped a jigger into the glass, making the whiskey level rise almost to its rim.  Smokelike, streamers of green liquor rose slowly from the smaller vessel and settled like fog on the tumbler's bottom.
"I betcha your suit came out of a spray can," he said casually, presenting a carafe which held a scarlet fluid.

The fresh remark might have made an old-fashioned lady blush but she did not let herself be distracted.  The ritual fascinated her as the red liquid dripped over the turned-over spoon to the drink's surface.

"If you're still on your feet after this one," said the Kopfolt, slipping two straws into the glass—one for drinking, the other for breathing—"all your drinks will be on the house!"

"I'll have you swallow your words!"  She let the burning liquid slide through her open throat and put the empty glass back.  "Another!"  Although she knew Earth only from the Consortium's holo presentations, Molly Mohoney was darn proud of her Irish heritage.

She came to several hours later, still standing, wide awake in an instant and without the slightest hangover, her features stiff with the silly grin that only now started to slip off her face.

The dastardly son of a she goat had not worn the prescribed white cotton gloves while serving her!

(Without apologies to anyone and no recriminations except from Molly, who feels I should have mentioned she must have had the most glorious time while she was out though she was absent as it happened, and with sincere thanks to Mister Trecee who told me this tale on an evening of quiet drinks in a hushed corner of the White Hart/Fred Schütz for the 2000 celebration)

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2000