When Bar Conversations Turn To…Pliny The Elder (Not The Pliny The Elder Beer)

I was sitting outside in a bar last night with my husband and we started talking about…astronomy! I don’t know exactly how the conversation got started, but it seems to me that Orion’s Belt was mentioned at some point. Then I said:

“Wouldn’t it be funny if Orion’s Belt was originally part of a guy’s whole ensemble? Like maybe at one time there was also an Orion’s Socks Garter, Orion’s Dickie and Orion’s Suspenders?”

And my husband chimed in with “Orion’s Speedo!”

“You mean THONG Speedo,” I quipped back!

Then he started talking about how Betelgeuse, one of the brightest stars in our night sky, might “blow” at any time.

“Does that mean it could end humanity as we know it if it happens?” I asked.

“No, it would just supernova,” he said.

“Damn,” I said, in disappointment.

Being that he’s kind of an astronomy aficionado, he started talking more a bit about supernovas in history. He mentioned Supernova 1054, which was observed – and recorded in some art pieces – by people from all over the world.

More about Pliny The Elder in a bit (not the beer)! Well, yes, I’ll get to the beer, too!

“Do you think Pliny the Elder may have also witnessed this?” I asked him.

“No, it would have happened too late for him to have seen it,” he said.

“Well, then maybe Pliny the Younger might have seen it,” I said, adding that I saw on some history show that Pliny the Younger had actually witnessed the eruption of Mount Vesuvius – and wrote about it in letters. No, he wouldn’t have seen that astronomical event, either!

Now that I’m not at the bar and running my mouth off any more (LOL), I decided to read a bit more about this! Turns out Pliny the Younger’s uncle – Pliny the Elder – died while rescuing a friend during the eruption. The elder Pliny wrote the Naturalis Historia (natural history) encyclopedia. This probably means that he was a HUGE nerd, since it became a model for future encyclopedias. Below is an image from a funny “Monty Python” bit involving encylcopedia salesmen:

Anyone else remember encylopedias that weren’t on the Internet? Remember if you wanted to learn more about something you had to find the right book? We had both a Funk & Wagnall’s animal encyclopedia set and a World Book encyclopedia set when I was a kid. When I couldn’t find answers I wanted in either of those places, I would have to use a card catalog at a local library!

And now for something more interesting….beer! Pliny The Elder’s name has been used for a line of beers made by the Russian River Brewing Company, originally founded in Santa Rosa, CA (there is also a location in Windsor, Ontario, CA). A friend on Facebook posted a photo of a can of Pliny The Elder beer that he’d poured into a glass, which he shared on a Michigan beer enthusiast’s page. Cheers!

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