The Wonders of Alcohol

Kage Baker was, as is well-known, very fond of rum. And she was very fond of pirates. Her favourite pirate was Captain Sir Henry Morgan, in that he was one of the few really, really successful pirates – died knighted, a rich man, in his own bed, surrounded by his family. Her favourite rum was Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum – because the Captain Morgan on the label was such a jolly, villainous, black-bearded fellow.

Also, the rum tasted great. Kage drank it mixed with everything. One of her better creations (at least, so the audience at the time decided) was something called a Jamaican Bobsled: Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum and chocolate milk; because, Kage said, it went down easy and you crashed at the bottom. It was served over ice, if you had any, because to have warmed it would have resulted in combustion.

Our own beloved Wayne Fisher is, I think, the last survivor of the initial creation of this drink. I remember him and Kage chugging it happily after Faire hours in the Innyard, giggling and glowing faintly … and yet another dear friend, Tom Barclay, has this very morning as is sent me information on a Captain Morgan link just as splendid and strange.

Captain Morgan’s Rum has just contributed to a most amazing and wonderful discovery: cast your eyes, Dear Readers, on this!

One of Captain Morgan’s ships has been found off Panama (which still remembers him, though not with joy), sunk near Lajas Reef. it appears to be one of the 5 ships he lost in a bloody battle  in 1671.Back in 2008, the archeologists responsible found a full half-dozen cannons they were convinced were Morgan’s, but they ran out of money before they could get any further. And here’s where the miracle happens.

Captain Morgan USA – the company that makes the blessed stuff – stepped in. With a grant. Lots and lots of money, including enough for the magnetometer study that let the team find the actual ship herself.

So rejoice, drinkers of Captain Morgan’s Rum! The good money we’ve all laid out for that splendid potable has gone to find Morgan’s own ship. Complete with cargo, still safely sealed in coral … wonder what they’ll find in there?

Thus does vice fund virtue, excess pay for saving something precious, and indulgence in good rum contribute to the advancement of knowledge. Kage, should she be aware of this, is doubtless both gratified and unsurprised – it’s exactly the way she thought the Universe should work.

Are any of you familiar with the work of Jack Horner? Well, actually, I can state with confidence that you are, although you may not be aware of just how much. Dr. Horner is a paleontologist, one of the two most vocal proponents of the warm-bloodedness of dinosaurs. He is an expert on the reproductive strategies of dinosaurs (a subject hitherto unexplored by anyone else); he established that dinosaurs flocked, built nests, cared for their young … he is the inspiration for the heroic Dr. Allen Grant in Jurassic Park.

However, before he was famous, Dr. Horner was an impoverished grad student who needed funding for a summer dig in the Badlands of Montana. His adviser told him to write and request funds from companies whose products he used a lot – they were the likeliest to give funds for projects. Upon consideration of what products he used the most, Horner sent a grant request to the Ranier Brewing Company, of whose iconic Ranier Ale (renowned for being cheap, strong, and inexplicably smelling like skunks when first opened) he felt he consumed a grant-worthy amount.

Astoundingly, Ranier Brewing said yes. And funded Horner’s digs long enough for him to establish his reputation, and become one of the best-known and most innovative paleontologists in the world. If you look closely at the beginning of Jurassic Park, the scene where Grant comes roaring into his lab trailer to confront the old nutcase who is interrupting his dig, there is a brief shot of a 16-oz Ranier Ale can on the counter … homage, Dear Readers, to one of the funnier and more successful grant collaborations in recent history.

Kage loved that story. Partly for Hunter’s chutzpah and honesty, partly because – during the blurriest parts of our misspent youth – Ranier Ale was our tipple of choice, too.

Good old Rainier – Rainy Ale, Skunk Ale, Vitamin R, Green Death; its aficianados had lots of affectionate names for it. But when you came right down to it, the stuff was a good cheap drink for poor working men, grad students and struggling artists. And it helped Jack Horner develop his model of the maiasaurs, the “good mother” dinosaurs, and proved they had all the nurturing instincts of their little feathered descendents, the birds.

Now Kage’s favourite rum has also stepped forward and lit a torch (burning dangerously  blue, no doubt) to light the dark past and bring forth its treasures. Somewhere, she is doing her triumph dance – the one she always danced around the living room at a good review, or a new book sale, or the discovery of something grand and glorious out of the past.

This calls for a drink. Rum for everyone!

About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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7 Responses to The Wonders of Alcohol

  1. MaggiRos says:

    I posted that very link earlier today. If I weren’t at work, I’d have whooped and hollered myself! (Harry Morgan appears in the last couple chapters of Molly September. 😉 Now there’s all the waiting while they find, retrieve, and argue with the Panamanian government over who really owns the treasure they will certainly bring up.


  2. Kate says:

    Salvage! It’s all salvage! Never mind that they are finding it off the coast of one of the most memorable of pirate raids, in a vessel commanded by the memorable pirate who committed the raid – it’s technically, legally, salvage. The laws of the sea must be honoured, by the Powers!

    Or whatever it takes to bring that stuff somewhere I can go and see it …


  3. Margaret says:

    What the world surely needs – more public-spirited freebooters!


  4. Laura says:

    I had a Jamaican Bobsled-like experience once. I showed up at a party with a bottle of Captain Morgan’s Pineapple Rum and a 2-liter of Diet Coke with Lime. I was pretty sure that they would be delicious together. Unfortunately, I was right. We started playing Never Have I Ever. I’m not sure what I said, but I emptied both bottles in the process. I do know that the evening ended with having to be driven back to my apartment, half a block away, because I couldn’t walk that far. I can at least now *look* at a bottle of pineapple rum without feeling ill, 6 years later.


  5. Kate says:

    Ooooh, Laura, Kage would have loved that combination! I know she never had pineapple rum – but she loved Lime Coke, and did mix it with regular Capt. Morgan. If she couldn’t find Lime Coke, she added Rose’s Lime Juice to regular Coke … she was a girl for musical comedy drinks, I tell ya. Me, I stick to single-malt Scotch and highly hopped ales: but Kage liked those things that make you speak in tongues.


  6. Kate says:

    Yes, Laura, I belong to that exclusive (and slightly swaying club) of brown drink imbibers. Lots of barley, lots of hops – liquid bread! Liquor old enough to marry and too dark to see through. Our motto: NO BLUE BOOZE!


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