Robert Service and Absinthe?

Sepulchritude Forum: The Absinthe Forum Archives Thru July 2001: Topics Archived Thru Oct 2000:Robert Service and Absinthe?
By Wormwood on Thursday, October 26, 2000 - 05:13 am: Edit

100 in math and 100 in English. On the SAT you
get that many points if you sign your name and
leave the whole test blank. 1600 (800 math 800
verbal) is a perfect score. You get a 0 only if
you answer every question wrong. Many more people
get 1600 on SAT tests then test over 200 on the
I.Q. test

By Bob_chong on Wednesday, October 25, 2000 - 10:44 pm: Edit


There are a couple of websites that estimate IQs of the historical geniuses. Take it with a grain of salt, but fun to poke around at: and

Kant is on there.


I've seen a study that has corrected for the Flynn Effect:

Philosophers 158
Scientists 153
Non-fiction Writers 148
Religious Leaders 148
Fiction Writers 143
Revolutionary Statesmen 143
Statesmen 143
Artists 138
Musicians 138
Soldiers 118


By Chrysippvs on Wednesday, October 25, 2000 - 10:06 pm: Edit

I have read that one BC...very interesting. The ancient Stoics held a very similar idea to the Bell Curve, atleast it appears so in the fragments of my namesakes Greek writings (as opposed to the horrendous latin fragments). It is a shame that Chrysippus wrote over 705 books, although he is said to have quoted an entire work of Xenophon, and we only have fragments due to the Alexadrian fire. I am working right now on making the first English translation of the Fragments found in ther Veretum Stoicorum Fragmenta..look for it on shevles when I am 70 or so!

The IQ stuff, I feel, is a sham. I would have love to have tested some men like St. Thomas Aquinas or Athanasius of Alexandria, mean that could not do basic mathematics but had a massive understanding of philosophic principles. I honestly think it is not a matter of general intelligence on a multitude of matters rather the in dept study of a particular field that makes most men the genius they are remembered for. Take Kant for instance, he never traveled five miles from his house and could not remember basic information about himself and others, but his Critques baffle even the most ardent scholar.

I am going to dig up some of the testing they did on me when I was younger and see what I come up with...I do however remember being in the gifted class half the day, the special ed class some of the day, and in speech development for most of two years. I think it just left me confused.

- J

By Bob_chong on Wednesday, October 25, 2000 - 09:32 pm: Edit

For further reading, I highly recommend a book called The Bell Curve. It is one of those books that everyone has an opinion on but very few have actually read. A lot is to be learned from the book (and skip the last part that could be construed as a case for eugenics--ugh), and it is very, very well written. It is quite readable for the layperson, which is rare, given the subject matter.


By Bob_chong on Wednesday, October 25, 2000 - 09:25 pm: Edit

Yes, there are many IQ measures.

But for the layperson, suffice it to say that IQ is based on a normal distribution where the mean is 100 and 15 points represents a standard deviation. For most tests, they are somewhat unreliable after 160--because, after all, once you're talking about someone 4 SDs above the mean (i.e., top 0.13%), why quibble? Who's smarter, Hawking or Einstein? Seems goofy to ask or answer.

For those interested, SAT scores (math or verbal) have a mean of 500 and 100 points is the SD.

Then again, some people reject the notion of general intelligence and question IQ tests altogether. But I've found that these people are usually liberals or poor test-takers. Just kidding. ;-)


By Absintheur on Wednesday, October 25, 2000 - 09:16 pm: Edit

Using the Stanford-Binet test a "perfect score," normed for age, is 200 (~250 on Cattell). Some childhood IQ tests return scores over 200 when adjusted for age, but these are normed beyond perfect for reasons of statistical significance -- any IQ test given before the age of 18 has an implied margin of error of approximately 25 points.

Though Einstein was never tested for IQ, a recent paper reviewing his body of work estimated an IQ of 160. Neitzsche, on the other hand, in the same paper, ranked 185. A commonly sited survey reveals: philosophers average 173; scientists 164; fiction writers 163; statesmen 159; musicians 153; artists 150; soldiers 133; with a universal average of 103.

Marilyn Vos Savant tested only once at 200 on the Stanford-Binet scale, she has more recently tested at 185 in a verifiable test.

There are IQ tests that break down scores catagorically, but these typically have nothing to do with the Stanford-Binet 200 point scale which itself is skewed toward IQ as tested by manipulation of spacial relationships.

By Tabreaux on Wednesday, October 25, 2000 - 08:34 pm: Edit

Einstein's IQ was 206-207. The highest ever recorded is 240 (Marilyn Vos Savant). Needless to say, both are well above mine.

By Jkk on Wednesday, October 25, 2000 - 08:28 pm: Edit

This whole I.Q. story sounds odd. I haven't heard of separating I.Q. into different sections. Also, a figure of 130 puts you in the top 2% of the population. By the way, what was Einstein's quotient? I thought it was something like 150--maybe I'm wrong. Anyway, getting 100 in Math and 200 in English sounds more like a college entrance exam. I don't even know if the tests are constructed to score up to 200.

By Chrysippvs on Wednesday, October 25, 2000 - 11:09 am: Edit

"Unlike Chrysippvs I hear he was pretty good at

Yeah that whole special theory of relativity involved some tinkering of sorts..From what I understand Neils Bohr was much the same as a kid, so was Bram Stoker for what it's worth.

By Wormwood on Wednesday, October 25, 2000 - 11:06 am: Edit

Not, to compare Chrysippvs with anyone, but I read
the same thing about Albert Einstien. That he
didn't talk until a late age and he was diagnosed
as mildly retarded by his teachers.

Unlike Chrysippvs I hear he was pretty good at

By Chrysippvs on Wednesday, October 25, 2000 - 09:33 am: Edit

I hope he can overcome really can be a terrible situation..I have worked lots with mentally retarded and mentally ill people in my life) they are great people, and despite a lot tend to be some of the happiest people I know.

- J

By Bob_chong on Wednesday, October 25, 2000 - 09:26 am: Edit


Your statement: "I did not talk until I was around 5" explains a lot. As do the rest of the tests. I assumed from your posts that some school psychologist had abused your IQ scores by using them to make leaps and bounds in inferences.

Maybe my nephew will turn out to be as interesting as you are. I love him just the same.


By Chrysippvs on Wednesday, October 25, 2000 - 09:19 am: Edit

No I have been tons of tests, and I did not talk until I was around 5 with any form of coherency, and reading and writing was slow to come too so that contributed to the diagnosis as well. I never had any of the angry outbursts or such things and it wasnt a learning disorder liks ADD, as I can sit in a lecture hall for hours listening to classes on Iraenaeus' "Against Gnostic Heresy in light of Maricoite tri-partism" all day long (did this a few weeks ago). It it just some wierd mental thing that just hinders me in certain seems to be less so these days. It is funny I can quote you the first 100 lines of the Aeneid but i don't know my times tables past 8...

By Bob_chong on Wednesday, October 25, 2000 - 09:08 am: Edit


I'm surprised autism was the diagnosis. Autism can mean a lot of things, but it is typically related to social and communications skills. I have never heard it to mean a processing difficulty in spelling/math. I would think you have a learning disability rather than autism. My nephew is autistic, and it was very expensive and time consuming to be properly diagnosed. Did you go through some battery of tests, or did someone look at your IQ scores and say, "Yep, he's autistic"? Always doubt diagnoses when then are about your brain and made by a single person.


By Chrysippvs on Wednesday, October 25, 2000 - 08:34 am: Edit


That particuar test was given in the 5th grade, although I have recently taken another and the lower score has come up a fwe points and the higher score has come down 10 points...or so. The gross margin in the two lead me to be diagnosed as mildly autistic the same problem that Dostoesky may have had from what I understand.

Well, there you go I am rainman with a passion for absinthe..

"yeah definitely a pre-1880 cut reservoir, yeah with a mominette dose, blown in Auver, yeah gotta watch Wapner at 4:30...."

By Black_rabbit on Wednesday, October 25, 2000 - 06:08 am: Edit

Thank you Eric. That rocked!

By Eric on Wednesday, October 25, 2000 - 01:00 am: Edit

By Robert W. Service

He's yonder, on the terrace of the Cafe' de la Paix,
The little wizened Spanish man, I see him every day.
He's sitting with his Pernod on his customary chair;
He's staring at the passers with his customary stare.
He never takes his piercing eyes from off that moving throng,
That current cosmopolitan meandering along:
Dark diplomats from Martinique, pale Rastas from Peru,
An Englishman from Bloomsbury, a Yank from Kalamazoo;
A poet from Montmartre's heights, a dapper little Jap,
Exotic citizens of all the countries on the map;
A tourist hourde from every land thats underneath the sun-
That little wizenend Spanish man, he misses never one.
Oh, foul or fair he's always there, and many a drink he buys,
And there's a fire of red desire within his hollow eyes.
And sipping of my Pernod, and a-knowing what I know,
Sometimes I want to shriek aloud and give away the show.
I've lost my nerve; he's haunting me; he's like a beast of prey,
That Spanish man that's watching at the Cafe' de la Paix.

Say! Listen and I'll tell you all...the day was growing dim,
And I was with my Pernod at the table next to him;
And he was sitting soberly as if he were asleep,
When suddenly he seemed to tense, like tiger for a leap.
And then he swung around to me, his hand went to his hip,
My heart was beating like a gong-my arm was in his grip;
His eyes were glaring into mine; aye, though I shrank with fear,
His fetid breath was on my face, his voice was in my ear:
"Excuse my brusquerie," he hissed; "but, sir, do you suppose-
That portly man who passed us had a wen upon his nose?"

And then at last it dawned on me, the fellow must be mad;
And when I soothingly replied: "I do not think he had,"
The little wizened Spanish man subsided in his chair,
And shrouded in his raven cloak resumed his owlish stare.
But when I tried to slip away he turned and glared at me,
And oh, that fishlike face of his was sinister to see:
"Forgive me if I startled you; of course you think I'm queer;
No doubt you wonder who I am, so solitary here;
You question why the passers-by I piercingly review . . .
Well, listen, my bibacious friend, I'll tell my tale to you.

"It happened twenty years ago, and in another land:
A maiden young and beautiful, two suitors for her hand.
My rival was the lucky one; I vowed I would repay;
Revenge has mellowed in my heart, it's rotten ripe to-day.
My happy rival skipped away, vamoosed, he left no trace;
And so I'm waiting, waiting here to meet him face to face;
For has it not been ever said that all the world one day
Will pass in pilgrimage before the Cafe de la Paix?"

"But, sir," I made remonstrance, "if it's twenty years ago,
You'd scarcely recognize him now, he must have altered so."
The little wizened Spanish man he laughed a hideous laugh,
And from his cloak he quickly drew a faded photograph.
"You're right," said he, "but there are traits (oh, this you must allow)
That never change; Lopez was fat, he must be fatter now.
His paunch is senatorial, he cannot see his toes,
I'm sure of it; and then, behold! that wen upon his nose.
I'm looking for a man like that. I'll wait and wait until . . ."
"What will you do?" I sharply cried; he answered me: "Why, kill!
He robbed me of my happiness -- nay, stranger, do not start;
I'll firmly and politely put -- a bullet in his heart."

And then that little Spanish man, with big cigar alight,
Uprose and shook my trembling hand and vanished in the night.
And I went home and thought of him and had a dreadful dream
Of portly men with each a wen, and woke up with a scream.
And sure enough, next morning, as I prowled the Boulevard,
A portly man with wenny nose roamed into my regard;
Then like a flash I ran to him and clutched him by the arm:
"Oh, sir," said I, "I do not wish to see you come to harm;
But if your life you value aught, I beg, entreat and pray --
Don't pass before the terrace of the Cafe de la Paix."
That portly man he looked at me with such a startled air,
Then bolted like a rabbit down the rue Michaudière.
"Ha! ha! I've saved a life," I thought; and laughed in my relief,
And straightway joined the Spanish man o'er his apéritif.
And thus each day I dodged about and kept the strictest guard
For portly men with each a wen upon the Boulevard.
And then I hailed my Spanish pal, and sitting in the sun,
We ordered many Pernods and we drank them every one.
And sternly he would stare and stare until my hand would shake,
And grimly he would glare and glare until my heart would quake.
And I would say: "Alphonso, lad, I must expostulate;
Why keep alive for twenty years the furnace of your hate?
Perhaps his wedded life was hell; and you, at least, are free . . ."
"That's where you've got it wrong," he snarled; "the fool she took was me.
My rival sneaked, threw up the sponge, betrayed himself a churl:
'Twas he who got the happiness, I only got -- the girl."
With that he looked so devil-like he made me creep and shrink,
And there was nothing else to do but buy another drink.

Now yonder like a blot of ink he sits across the way,
Upon the smiling terrace of the Cafe de la Paix;
That little wizened Spanish man, his face is ghastly white,
His eyes are staring, staring like a tiger's in the night.
I know within his evil heart the fires of hate are fanned,
I know his automatic's ready waiting to his hand.
I know a tragedy is near. I dread, I have no peace . . .
Oh, don't you think I ought to go and call upon the police?
Look there . . . he's rising up . . . my God!
He leaps from out his place . . .
Yon millionaire from Argentine . . . the two are face to face . . .
A shot! A shriek! A heavy fall! A huddled heap! Oh, see
The little wizened Spanish man is dancing in his glee. . . .
I'm sick . . . I'm faint . . . I'm going mad. . . .
Oh, please take me away . . .
There's BLOOD upon the terrace of the Cafe de la Paix. . . .

By Bob_chong on Wednesday, October 25, 2000 - 12:13 am: Edit


In case you were curious, anything above 145 is unreliable, in terms of measurement. And the 103 score is smack dab in the middle of the curve--slightly above, actually, as 100 is the mean for IQ. But I understand that it was the disparity that was shocking, not the scores.

Also (if you care to discuss it), how old were you when that IQ test was administered? These things tend to stabilize after a certain age, although there is typically a moderate correlation between scores from earlier age to later, but it is far from perfect.


By Chrysippvs on Tuesday, October 24, 2000 - 11:26 pm: Edit

I am AWFUL at math....when I was around 8 I was thought to have some form of mild autism, which is why I was in the advanced class half the day and in the remidial class the rest...if you split my IQ test down the middle I have a 201 on the reading/lit side and a 103 on the spelling/math is just funny that way. It only took me 4 months to learn Latin well enough to read Virgil and only 3 months to learn the read the Greek New Testament...but for the life of me I can't do simple mathemtatics lke polynomials and sloving two-three step equations kills me..and also I can't spell for the life of me.

I am equally blessed as I suppose it works out fine...

By Don_walsh on Tuesday, October 24, 2000 - 10:31 pm: Edit

Just teasing. It is a little surprising, since programming requires precision about syntax and naming, and the compiler/assembler whatever doesn't catch all errors, just the ones it was programmed to I would think that this would be a distinct problem for you in writing code. For writing text it seems only dinosaurs like me care about spelling(grammar, etc.), all others put their faith in the spell checkers...

Obviously you are erudite and good at languages, and probably good at math I'd guess.

By Chrysippvs on Tuesday, October 24, 2000 - 10:24 pm: Edit

PS Justin -- ever enter a spelling bee?

Once in the fourth grade I won a silver medal..and since then it has been downhill. To make matters worse I am always reading from this e-book thing and I never look at what I type before I hit submit...

By Don_walsh on Tuesday, October 24, 2000 - 11:47 am: Edit

Yep, that's true of semetic languages, whatever they might be, but it is even more true of semitic languages. Like Hebrew and Arabic. The children of Shem are Semites are they not? I dunno what a Semete might be. Haven't heard anyone being accused of antisemetism lately. Unless present world events make 'antisemetes' of us all. Personally I'm pretty fed up with both sides.

Anyway transliteration is always a bitch, we have same problem with Thai (and Lao and Khmer).

PS Justin -- ever enter a spelling bee?

By Chrysippvs on Tuesday, October 24, 2000 - 08:44 am: Edit

If Madonna was really studying the Kabbalah she would have cut the reeds quite a bit ago..and for the spelling anytime when you are trying to transliterate a semetic (or worse a proto-semetic) language is it all a matter of interpretation..and since Hebrew proper has no vowels and the soft and hard sounds vary from grammatician to grammatician it is hard to get a good world-view..

By Bob_chong on Tuesday, October 24, 2000 - 08:27 am: Edit

Maybe she'll start spelling her name Madonnah, Madana, or Madanna. ;-)

Reminds me of Quaddafi...


By Midas on Tuesday, October 24, 2000 - 08:20 am: Edit

I used to work in an esoteric bookshop, and our Kabbala section had books that spelt it as Kabbala, Qabbala, Cabbala, and Kabbalah. I heard recently that Madonna is now studying the above mentioned system. Maybe during her Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga classes, or her decoupage lessons, or...

By Don_walsh on Monday, October 23, 2000 - 12:43 pm: Edit

Isn't that spelled 'kabbalistic'?

Also cabalistic. We get the word cabal from this.

I always wanted cabal TV.

By Chrysippvs on Monday, October 23, 2000 - 08:49 am: Edit

You do huh?
well it is a Kabbalahistic letter cipher..if you count ever 7 letters you end up with the Sephirot tree and how to make a golem with play doh. In a past life I guess I was Trithemius:


- J

By Jkk on Monday, October 23, 2000 - 08:33 am: Edit

I wish I knew what language you wrote in.

By Chrysippvs on Monday, October 23, 2000 - 07:15 am: Edit

A funny side note is that Pernod was listed on the wine registry of the titanic, and also around 50 sealed bottles were found in a shipwreck off the coast of france recently...

By Wormwood on Monday, October 23, 2000 - 07:06 am: Edit

I know a bottle collector, and he was showing me
an inventory list of stuff for sale from an
ongoing dig in a dump from an old west mining
town. There was a bottle of Pernod absinthe
listed, I also saw a Pernod bottle for sale on
Ebay a while back that the discription said was
dug up in the American Southwest somewhere. So, I
know for a fact someone was drinking it, but I
couldnt tell you how popular it was at t

By Chrysippvs on Sunday, October 22, 2000 - 09:00 pm: Edit

You may want to look through libbey glass online..they have some nice ones that you would get an acid etching set and make a nice east glass. I would be weary of E-bay, lots of highly overpriced anis and pastis glasses from the 50 on there now and in the past...I would recommend posting about them to make sure they are period or e-mailing Frenchman Phil or myself just to see.

take care


By Perruche_verte on Sunday, October 22, 2000 - 08:48 pm: Edit

Thanks for the answers!

I am not much of an antique hunter anyway, but I suspected any search for absinthe items in this general region was likely to be fruitless. This strengthens my suspicions.

So I guess it's Ebay, if and when I really want to invest in some accessories. I have been meaning to check out the local Depression glass market for a while though -- a few companies made some 5-1/2 to 6 oz. crystal water goblets that I imagine would be just dandy for absinthe.

By Chrysippvs on Friday, October 20, 2000 - 11:59 pm: Edit

1) I am given to understand that Pernod was the Coca-Cola of absinthes -- would it have been easy to come by in the U.S. and Canada at the fin-de-siecle? Did it make it into the Midwest -- cities like Chicago, Minneapolis, Winnipeg, Davenport, St. Louis?

Probably not. Although it is not totaly out of the questions..Pernod Fils for instance shipped absinthe everywhere from San Fransico, to Vietnam, to Jerusalem and back. I don't think that the American palate has ever had a desire for anise. I would be willing to bet that most absinthe came to our little Paris, and even now to find indigenous absinthe items in the big easy is basically impossible.

2) Roughly how much would a bottle have cost at the time?

I am not totally sure (Absintheur?) I have seen seen old invoices however that have around 10 bottles for 7 FF per bottle and I have seen others for around 15 FF a bottle...I am sure it varied quite a bit depending on brands there are some I have seen for literally half a nickel a glass, that was the stuff that later became known as anti-freeze and later Hills.

3) And how widely distributed was Herbsaint outside of New Orleans?

Good question...I would not imagine too terribly much although it must have been very popular in N O in it's "hey dey". I really don't know much about their absinthe...although there are tons of old metal signs in N O, the oldest one I saw was for when Herbsaint was already a pastis reading "Always served when Absinthe is asked for" or something to that effect (can be found on Chartres St and the Pharmecy museum as for a few months ago)

Hope it helped to answer your questions..


By Billynorm on Friday, October 20, 2000 - 11:36 pm: Edit

What blows me away is the concept of absinthe making its way into the Yukon!

By Perruche_verte on Friday, October 20, 2000 - 10:08 pm: Edit

Some nice photos on that site with the bio, too.

I guess I forgot somehow that Service was around pre-ban and could have gotten absinthe easily enough.

Here's to the "green stuff"... which alas, I am temporarily out of!

I have a few questions for you absinthe scholars, if anyone will indulge me.

1) I am given to understand that Pernod was the Coca-Cola of absinthes -- would it have been easy to come by in the U.S. and Canada at the fin-de-siecle? Did it make it into the Midwest -- cities like Chicago, Minneapolis, Winnipeg, Davenport, St. Louis?

2) Roughly how much would a bottle have cost at the time?

3) And how widely distributed was Herbsaint outside of New Orleans?

Many thanks in advance.

By Bob_chong on Friday, October 20, 2000 - 11:19 am: Edit

Also, the line: "and the drops fell one by one" sounds like a nice louche, no?


By Billynorm on Friday, October 20, 2000 - 10:33 am: Edit

"Greetings from an old sourdough..."

Mystery solved! "Green stuff" does means absinthe. Go to

look under "G"

read it & steep!

By Don_walsh on Friday, October 20, 2000 - 04:11 am: Edit

I always liked 'The Ballad of Eskimo Nell' (anonymous, but in Service's style). However it is a little too risque for the Forum, Marc's mighty weapon and all.

By Absinthedrinker on Friday, October 20, 2000 - 03:42 am: Edit

I knew next to nothing about his poetry until I just did a quick search. Seems that he was in France around the time of the ban, spent a fair time in bars so he must have encountered the Green Fairy

By Billynorm on Thursday, October 19, 2000 - 11:51 pm: Edit

If they used a higher proof absinthe like Mari Mayans, that would have helped to cremate Sam McGee!

It appears the Czech ritual hadn't been invented at that time or that too might have helped!

By Perruche_verte on Thursday, October 19, 2000 - 10:44 pm: Edit

"Green stuff" could just mean green whisky/whiskey, i.e., an unaged and very nasty drink.

By Lanman on Thursday, October 19, 2000 - 10:41 pm: Edit

Here's an interesting portion from "The Shooting of Dan McGrew" by Robert W. Service:

There's men that somehow just grip your eyes, 
and hold them hard like a spell;
And such was he, and he looked to me
like a man who had lived in hell;
With a face most hair, and the dreary stare
of a dog whose day is done,
As he watered the green stuff in his glass,
and the drops fell one by one.

Any thoughts?

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