Now there's an online service that provides all the documentation you need to squirm out of a sticky situation: restaurant bills, telephone records, personal testimonials, you name it. The service is called Alibi-beton, and it seems to be available in French, German, and English, for the international man of mystery. Via Geek Press
The first commercial sparkling wine was produced in the Limoux* area of Languedoc about 1535. Around 1700, sparkling Champagne, as we know it today, was born. There is documentary evidence that sparkling wine was first intentionally produced by English scientist and physician Christopher Merrett at least 30 years before the work of Dom Perignon who, contrary to legend and popular belief, did not invent sparkling wine.
Although the French monk Dom Perignon did not invent champagne, it is true he developed many advances in the production of this beverage, including holding the cork in place with a wire collar to withstand the fermentation pressure. It is believed champagne was created accidentally, yet others believe that the first champagne was made with rhubarb** but was changed because of the high cost.
The word "garbage" originally referred to entrails and offal. It appears quite frequently in old recipes. Here is how it's used in a fifteenth-century cookbook:
Take fayre garbagys of chykonys, as the hed, the fete, the lyuerys, an the gysowrys; washe hem clene, an caste hem in a fayre potte, an caste ther-to freysshe brothe of Beef or ellys of moton, an let it boyle; an a-lye it wyth brede, an ley on Pepir an Safroun, Maces, Clowys, an a lytil verious an salt, an serue forth in the maner as a Sewe. --Medieval Cookery
[Take some nice garbage of chickens, such as the head, the feet, the livers, and the gizzards; wash them clean and put them in a nice pot, and add fresh beef or mutton broth, and let it boil. Add bread, pepper, saffron, mace, cloves, and a little verjuice* and salt, and serve it as a pottage]
"Fayre" would have been the opposite of "foul," as "nice" is now the opposite of "nasty." The bread was used for thickening, a pottage is a soup or stew, and verjuice is (according to the OED) "the acid juice of green or unripe grapes, crab-apples, or other sour fruit, expressed and formed into a liquor." Actually it all sounds pretty good, but I'd substitute lamb for the chicken innards.
Terra Daily reports on the wildlife that makes its home on the Midwestern median strip:
Dale Sparks, associate professor and research scientist in the department of ecology and organismal biology, and a team of students are evaluating the quality of Interstate 70 as a small mammal habitat from the Indiana state line to Marshall, Ill. . . .
"Biologists have often considered roadways as useless or worse for wildlife," Sparks said. "The traditional view is that these areas are too badly damaged to serve as effective habitat. However, any birdwatcher and many bored drivers know that hawks spend a lot of time sitting on the roadside staring at the ditches, medians and highway triangles, so there must be something out there."
Previous studies in Kansas have shown highway triangles have a different mammal community than the surrounding landscapes, including high densities of one mouse considered rare. A student in northwest Indiana set up traps in a few triangles and caught deer mice considered extinct in the Chicago area. . . .
On the roadsides and in the triangles, they have found white-footed mice, deer mice and voles. In the medians, they have found white-footed mice, deer mice and shrews, including one type of shrew that is on the Indiana watch list.
In 1675, the governors of Bethlem Royal Hospital -- the infamous Bedlam -- published an interesting disclaimer:
"Whereas several vagrant persons do wander about … pretending themselves to be lunatics under cure in the Hospital of Bethlem commonly called Bedlam, with brass plates about their arms and inscriptions thereon: These are to give notice that there is no such liberty given to any patients kept in the said Hospital for their cure, neither is any such plate as a distinction or mark put upon any lunatic during their being there, or when discharged thence. And that the same is a false pretence, to colour their wandering and begging, and to deceive the people." -- Wikipedia
These creative members of the begging fraternity were called "Abraham men" (or "Abraham coves") after the main ward at Bedlam, called Abraham. Their scam flourished in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The image of the "Bedlam beggar" very probably formed the basis for Edgar's Tom O'Bedlam disguise in Shakespeare's King Lear.