Absinthe Arrives and a Steer Departs
A steer walks into a barroom in Livermore Falls and asks the bartender for a glass of absinthe.
“Jeez, pal,” says the bartender, “I don’t think that stuff is legal in Maine.”
“You’re behind the times, my good man,” says the steer, brandishing a recent issue of the Bangor Daily News, featuring an article on the absinthe revival, after more than a century of the liquor being banned in the United States.
“Three different brands are available in this state,” said the steer, “ranging in price from just over $60 a bottle to about $75.”
“Whoa,” says the bartender, “at those prices, I’d have to charge you 15 or 20 bucks a shot. But lemme ask you a question. We don’t get too many steers in this joint. Why do you think that is?”
The steer gave him a disgusted look and said, “How many of us could afford what you charge for drinks?”
This story is true. At least the part about absinthe being legal in Maine. And the part about a steer wandering around Livermore Falls.
It began on the evening of Oct. 25 and lasted until the wee hours of Oct. 26. The 300-pound steer escaped from a farmer, who’d just returned home after purchasing the beast. It wandered through Jay and Livermore Falls for hours before being captured. What it did while it was on the loose is a matter of speculation (at one point it was spotted outside a funeral home), but the scenario described above is no more implausible than, say, the average campaign commercial. Maybe even slightly more plausible.
According to the experts, this indicates, well … absolutely nothing, except that people have better things to do with their time on Election Day. Like drink absinthe.
If some pundit is dumb enough to look to Maine’s early balloting to assess national voting trends, that person is about as likely to be wildly off the mark as not.
By strange coincidence, now is also the time to make your voice heard on another important decision. The University of Maine’s exclusive 10-year, $3-million deal with Coca Cola expires next year.
U-Maine is now soliciting bids from drink manufacturers for a new agreement covering vending machines and cafeteria dispensers on its Orono campus. Among the leading contenders to take over are several absinthe distillers.
Those steers in the barns run by the agricultural college are going to be happy to hear that.
The number of people applying for unemployment is up sharply in Maine.
State records show 87 percent more claims were filed in September of this year than in the same month in 2007. To handle that increased workload, the state Department of Labor announced it was hiring 10 new workers to process paperwork.
But if those 10 people show up at a state office anytime soon, they’ll be standing on the wrong side of the window. Once Gov. John Baldacci heard about the plan, he quickly reminded the department there was a hiring freeze in effect, and he wasn’t about to let anybody fill any positions that weren’t absolutely critical until the budget situation (the state is facing a $500 million shortfall next fiscal year) clears up.
Perhaps the state court system has an unusual legal interpretation of the concept “absolutely critical,” because the courts filled a vacant position recently.
They hired a judge to relieve overloaded dockets?
A court officer to improve lax security?
A public-relations person and lobbyist to improve the judicial system’s image and chances of scoring more money in the next budget?
The hell with absinthe? I want whatever the people in charge of the courts are drinking.
I make the assumption the judicial types are imbibing to excess based not on their lack of political acumen, but on hard evidence from the state. Liquor sales are up.
Booze revenue will run about $500,000 ahead of expectations next year.
See, they should have legalized absinthe a lot sooner.
Unfortunately, the uptick in liquor revenue merely offsets the drop in lottery sales. And it doesn’t begin to cover the decline in money the state gets from the racino in Bangor, which is expected to be off by $3.6 million this year and $4.5 million in the next fiscal year.
OK, time for some good news. Ken Joyce, who used to be an unpaid bullpen catcher for the Portland Sea Dogs back in 1994, has steadily worked his way up through the minor-league baseball system, until he recently landed a much-sought-after job.
He’s the new public-relations person for the Maine courts.
Sorry, that was the absinthe talking.
That weird team name? It refers to Area 51, about 150 miles north of Vegas, the alleged site of an alien spaceship crash landing in the 1940s. Were the little green men looking for absinthe? Boy, did they come to the wrong country.
Now, if the creatures from Planet X had been seeking extruded composite sheet piling panels, they wouldn’t have been that far off.
That’s because researchers at the University of Maine (Pepsi-free – until 1999) have just received a patent for a new kind of extruded composite whatsits that will revolutionize waterfront construction.
That stuff would be very useful if the UFO pilots came from one of those planets where the surface is all water. They could use it to imprison Kevin Costner. They’d be doing the universe a big favor.
What does Waterville have in common with Honolulu, Dallas, Santa Fe, St. Louis and Silver Springs, Md.? Well, you can probably get a glass of absinthe in all those places, and … uh … that might be it.
Details are still being worked out, but the prestigious event will likely take place in April 2009. “Waterworld” will not be among the featured films.
Finally, check out the History Channel at 10 p.m. on Nov. 11 for the debut of “Extreme Trains,” an eight-part series hosted by Matt Bown, a train conductor from North Anson.
Bown got the gig, even though he has no TV experience, because he knows lots of railroad stuff. Such as the story that is covered in the first episode.
This train stops in Livermore Falls, and a steer gets on …
Al Diamon can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.