Maine Champagne

Believe it or not, the great state of Maine has a local cocktail.

MUG I learned this recipe from my good friend paramedic Jerry O’Neil of Northstar Ambulance in Rangeley, Maine.  (Strangeley is also the home of the Wilhelm Reich Museum.  Make of that what you will.)

The official cocktail of Maine is the Burnt Trailer, and it depends on Allen’s Coffee Flavored Brandy.  Allen’s “Brewed in Lewiston, Aged on the Truck” Coffee Flavored Brandy at one point occupied four of the top  ten slots on Maine’s best-selling alcohol list, one for each size bottle that they make.  Allen’s Coffee Flavored Brandy is actually made in Somerville, Massachusetts, but its best market is Maine.  It’s hard to find outside of New England.

MOXIEThe other ingredient of a Burnt Trailer is Moxie.   As in, “What do you call a six-pack of Moxie?”  “A life-time supply.”  Actually, no, Moxie is a soft drink that requires moxie to drink.   At one time Moxie was America’s best-selling and most popular soft drink.  That lasted right up to the moment that a second soft drink went on the market. Like Allen’s, it takes a very determined lad to imbibe it.

Nowadays you generally find Moxie only in New England.  Think of it as a bridge from the modern world to the days of patent medicines.

There’s a Moxie Festival every year in Lisbon, Maine.

So, to the Burnt Trailer recipe.

Fill a pint glass half-full with ice cubes.  Add one shot of Allen’s Coffee Flavored Brandy.  Fill the rest of the way with Moxie.  Sip!  Enjoy!  Find out why it’s called a Burnt Trailer!

Note: There are other drinks you can make with Allen’s Coffee Flavored Brandy.  The one with a  name I can use in polite company is the Sombrero, which is Allen’s half-and-half with milk or half-and-half.  (That same concoction has another, far less polite, name.)  The variant of the Burnt Trailer made with Allen’s and Diet Moxie (yes, there is such a thing) has a name that is … also impolite.  The Allen’s web page has a list of drinks with wonderful, polite names.  No one, so far as I know, drinks them.

Don’t try to make this with Tia Maria or Kahlúa.  Those wimpy things are only 40 proof, unlike Allen’s (60 proof).  They also taste good.   So, Allen’s or nothing!  And don’t use Coke, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, or any of those weakness-promoting unhealthy drinks — Moxie is the stuff (it has a druggist on the label so you know it’s good for what ails you) that keeps backwoodsmen back in the woods.

Anyway, I made a Burnt Trailer.   I tasted it.  “Distinctive!” I said.    Doyle tried a sip.  “Yech!” she commented.

I finished it.  That left me with half a bottle of Moxie.  So what could I do?  I made another.



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Altered States

A nice review over at
Altered States of the Union Cover

Story I’d Like Expanded Into a Novel: “Gertrude of Wyoming” by Debra Doyle & James D. Macdonald. This action-packed spy thriller had all the intrigue of a Bond story, but Gertrude had no need to supplement her awesomeness with hi-tech toys. I fell in love with this character AND the world she inhabits, and I’d love to know more about both.

A few notes about the story: Gertrude of Wyoming is itself a reference to a very popular narrative poem, Gertrude of Wyoming; A Pennsylvania Tale by Thomas Campbell, written in 1809.  It celebrates a now-obscure event in the Pennamite-Yankee War, a now-obscure war fought between Pennsylvania and Connecticut over the ownership of the Wyoming Valley in what is now northeastern Pennsylvania (a major source of coal).  That war ran on-and-off from 1769 through 1784.  The root cause of the war was that King Charles II had granted the same land to both colonies, and it had major economic value.  (The poem was so popular at the time that the present US state of Wyoming was named for it.)

Anyway, in our story, the way the war resolved was with the Wyoming valley becoming its own state.  At the same time, the Indian Stream Republic (an independent country on the border between the USA  and Canada which now forms the town of Pittsburg, New Hampshire, which existed from 1832 to 1835) retained its independence and functioned as a kind of Switzerland in the Americas, where various governments could carry out informal actions.  In this case, it’s the Republic of Germany trying to steal the transistor secrets (WWI and WWII never having taken place and there being no atomic bomb).  The last major historical change is that the USA continued under the Articles of Confederation rather than switching over to the Constitution that we now know and love, so America is a set of loosely aligned countries, each with its own money, border controls, and so on. The time when the story is placed is the early 1960s.

The rest of the political geography of North America is taken from Robert W. Chambers’ The King in Yellow, specifically from his story “The Repairer of Reputations,” which I suppose puts it somewhere in the Cthulhu mythos, or at least among its sources and analogs.

The first draft of our “Gertrude of Wyoming” story was quite a bit longer and contained more subplots and nefarious doings.  The feel I was going for was a Cold War thriller; A Funeral in Berlin, The Spy Who Came In From the Cold, etc. of which I read far too many in high school.

The exclusive period for this story is long over, so one of these days I’ll likely republish it myself (easier than finding a reprint market).


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COVID Near You

Modeled on Flu Near You, this is a crowd-sourcing site for COVID-19 infections.  Sponsored by Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, it seems like a good idea.  The more people who participate the more useful it will be.!/

Posted in Emergency Prep, Medicine | 1 Comment

Book Sale

Uo the Airy Mountain

Werewolves! Fairies! Science!

There’s a sale going on over at Smashwords, and all of the reprinted backlist that we have there is 75% off (that takes a bunch of ’em all the way down to free).

Now through March 7th. Complete your collection!


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Puppet Theater Magic Contest 2020

Best of Boston Magic Contest

Wednesday, February 12 at the Puppet Showplace Theater
32 Station St
Brookline, MA 02445

Contest starts at 7:30 pm

The Contest

Assembly Nine’s traditional Best of Boston Magic Contest takes place on Wednesday, February 12. The contest is open to any and all magicians wishing to compete.

It is a “people’s choice” contest, in that the judges are everyone who attends, be they compeers, guest magicians, or non-magician guests.

Each member and contestant can bring along a few friends or family members to enjoy the contest and vote for their favorite performers. There is no entrance fee.

Contestants are limited to a maximum of twelve minutes’ time.

First, second, and third place trophies will be awarded; handsome loving cups.

Last-minute contestants will be accepted at the door. Whether as a judge or a performer, let’s all do our part to advance the Art of Magic, and have some mystification and fun at the same time.

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Vermont Winter RenFaire 2020

Historia Mundi Naturalis, Pliny

So there you are in Vermont this weekend, and it’s cold, a nor’easter coming in, and you feel the need to do something evil.  Come do something Medieval at the Vermont Winter RenFaire.  I’ll be there, doing magic.  You know you want to be amazed. I’ll be doing walk-around from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, with platform shows every day; 2:00 pm Saturday and 2:30 pm Sunday.

Champlain Valley Exposition Center (105 Pearl St, Essex Junction, VT).  February 1/2 2020, doors open at 10:00 am.  Kids under six free.  Good time guaranteed.


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On the Variability of Symbols

This is also why, in your writing, you want to be careful of invoking songs, poetry, or music: the same piece may mean something very different for your readers than it does for you.

Dr. Doyle's Blog

It’s always dangerous to assume that the meaning another person attaches to a word or a picture or a gesture is the same one that you do.

Consider, for example, the hand sign made by folding down the middle two fingers of one hand while leaving the index finger and little finger extended. Depending on who and where you are, this can mean, variously:

  • I worship Satan.
  • I like heavy metal rock music.
  • Your spouse is cheating on you, ha ha!
  • Bad luck, go away!
  • I am from Texas and am a big fan of the University of Texas Longhorns football team. Shorter version: “Hook ’em, Horns!”

With regard to the last one, there was much confused commentary (outside of Texas, anyhow) about the well-attended and televised funeral service of proud and much-loved Texan Lady Bird Johnson, where the choir and congregation sang the UT fight song “The Eyes of…

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A Totally Disinterested Recommendation

I regret to inform you that I tried reading The DaVinci Code — twice!– and bounced off it –hard!– a chapter in each time.

Dr. Doyle's Blog

(And if you believe that, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.)

I just want to say that the latest episode of the No Story Is Sacred podcast — only coincidentally produced by my four offspring — takes on The Da Vinci Code, and is an absolute hoot.

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Tri-State Magic Auction

tri-state magic auction

Maine/New Hampshire/Massachusetts Auction


Sunday, April 19, 2020

BJ Hickman, MC and Auctioneer

LOCATION-The Chill Function Hall

580 US Highway 1 Bypass, Portsmouth, NH

It’s in the back of The Roundabout Restaurant and next door to the Holiday Inn

Time: Sellers Set Up 8:30 am

Auction Viewing 9:00 am

Auction 9:30-4:00

Lunch Break 1:00

Admission $7.00

To be a Seller – Contact Mike Aranda, Auction Chair ( ) to let him know that you wish to sell. Sellers will be placed in the order that you contact Mike.

Questions: Contact Mike or Nancy Frankel ( )

NOTE: Everyone read the fine print please:

PARKING: The entrance to THE CHILL is at the right of the building. Sunday morning is a very busy time for the restaurant. Sellers may unload at The Chill entrance but there is NO PARKING in front of the restaurant. Everyone must park at the Holiday Inn next door or in spaces not labeled for restaurant customers!!

FOOD: We are not allowed to bring food into the function room. The lunch break is scheduled for 1:00 when The Roundabout Restaurant will not be crowded.

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Dammit, CNN

I think they call them “content providers.”

Dr. Doyle's Blog

How am I supposed to respect you as a news source if you can’t even get your grammar right?

From this article:

TV and film adaptations of dystopian literature has dominated recent popular culture, from Suzanne Collins’ ‘Hunger Games’ trilogy, to Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, to the upcoming HBO version of Emily St. John Mandel’s ‘Station Eleven.’ Each is set in a future society that has devolved into a worse-case-scenario. In utopian fiction, on the other hand, the writer creates a world based on a set of ideals and values they deem important. Both utopian and dystopian fiction matters, as each can be used as a tool to prompt change by pointing out how things could go right — or wrong — in a society.

Do I really need to point out that it should be “TV and film adaptations have dominated” and “Both utopian and dystopian fiction

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