Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Because you care.

Today I got the first undiluted decent (not great, mind) news in almost a year. Still not out of the woods, but it seems we have moved a few trees closer to that noble goal.

As usual, thoughts, prayers, chants, etc. are encouraged.


Posted by Joke at 10:25 AM 5 comments

Monday, April 27, 2009


In which someone captures, perfectly, the way I feel about Twitter.



Posted by Joke at 6:33 AM 7 comments

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A microscopic rant.

You know what I hate about blogging?

Running out of steam mid-post.

My Draft pile is littered -- festooned, even -- with half-written entries. I'd say a good 40% of my bloggy efforts have prematurely gone to that elephant graveyard, and most of those because midway through whatever I was writing the realization dawned I had nowhere to go. I may have had a valid point, but had no satisfactory way of putting it.

So it's shelved.

That's just happend to me. Yes! Just now! I won't spoil it by revealing the details, as there may be a solution to the half-bakedness in the morning or after a generous soaking of my synapses in espresso. The point remains it's frustrating.

You start off at a breakneck pace, afire with the very clevah idea that prompted you to immediate bloggery, and then you start groping for words. Then you move a sentence or two. Finally you realize: "Aw, @#$%. That's all I had."

Aw, @#$%. That's all I have.


Posted by Joke at 9:25 AM 7 comments

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A beautiful day and its discontents. UPDATED!

UPDATE! The plumber has just exited, and the offending segments of pipe have been replaced. We may now shower and perform our daily toilette, etc.* with impunity.

For all her sterling qualities, my beloved loves being outside.

I know, I know. Nobody's perfect.

Me? I love beautiful days, and they cheer me to no end when I see them on television. But for her, a beautiful day means that she must put herself in the sunlight and, to validate herself somehow, all and sundry must be dragged along.

Such as, say, today.

Today was/is a beautiful day. Something -- anything -- out-of-doors had to be undertaken. She settled on this back yard skimboard thing (basically a Slip 'n' Slide with a thin piece of wood shaped like a surfboard upon which one slides).

No sooner had all the assembled, er, assembled than she tugged at the hose the wrong way and cracked a bit of pipe and a geyser of water shot heavenwards. We were able to sort of patch it -- don't ask -- after much grumbling and muttered oaths but to be safe we had to shut off the water to the house.


* It's the moratorium on the "Etc." which vexes most in these cases.

Posted by Joke at 5:48 PM 7 comments

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Clickage time again.

My latest review is up at Vinapedia.

Please click and keep me in free wine.

OK. Thanks. Bye.


Posted by Joke at 10:13 PM 7 comments

Recession Wine: 2006 Veramonte Primus

Assiduous Vinapediacs will recall how, prior to the world ending, we’d gone and discussed bargains in Bordeaux wines. Basically, these were wines from 3rd growth chateaux that drank like those from Premier growth wineries. But that was then, and this is now. So, we need to look a bit afield and adjust our perspectives somewhat. Not — not yet, rather — wines that fit comfortably in a small paper bag and complement a freegan diet, but wines for the civilized person in straitened times.

Since even a 3rd growth Bordeaux wine is looking like less of a solution and more of a splurge, the lack of liquidity (I slay myself, really) must be compensated with more research, digging, investigation and cogitation. My mind leaps to Bordeaux blends. These are sometimes called “meritage,” so as to avoid an airborne division of attorneys descending upon you, brandishing writs. And then my mind further leapt tpo New World wines. Not just New World Wines, but Newest World Wines. California, to be utterly blunt, is not really New World any more. Australia won’t be much longer. So the Oenoshlepping leads to places such as Chile, Argentina or South Africa.

A great many of these places have made their splash by using a simple but generally undiscussed approach: “What Bordeaux grape hasn’t been done to death?” They ascertain which one, and then go vinify that one and next thing you know they are the Hot New Varietal. But that’s not what I’m after. I want — there’s no getting away from it — a cheap bottle of Bordeaux elegance. I don’t want a bargain, I want a steal. Which isn’t something that leaps at your eye right away. This is why I’ve been away. I’ve been undercover.

I am delighted to say that after only several months and a few slit throats and poisoned umbrellæ jabs later, I have found an excellent candidate. An $18 bottle (I’ve seen it at the better warehouse-type places for $14-$15) that drinks like the $40 bottle that drinks like the $200 bottle. I emphasize the word “like.” This wine might not be a direct replacement, in the sense of letting it age several decades, but an ideal substitute for current consumption.

I came across this pearl among potables when planning a dinner gathering for people who were relatively wine-savvy but for whom, frankly, my fondness was limited. Seeing as how I wouldn’t be caught dead dragging some of the better bottles from my cellar for their consumption, nor was I in the mood to indulge in vinuous largesse, I was forced to put my Newest World Bordeaux Blend Theory into operation.

The wine?

2006 Veramonte Primus Colchagua Valley ($15)

Rating: ♠ ♠ ♠ 1/2
This wine is a blend of 51 percent Merlot (duh) and 32 percent Cabernet Sauvignon (duh) and 17 percent Carmènere. The latter is one of those famous “lost grapes” of Bordeaux and it’s on the backs of Newest World Wines that it’s making a comeback, just as Malbec has. It’s a dark garnet in the glass with clear notes of fresh (not jammy) raspberries and blackberries on the nose. The raspberry notes carry over from the realm of scent to that of flavors, augmented by zippy, currant-y flavors and supported by a pleasantly bracing minerality and bittersweet chocolate. On the swirl, you will find delicate tannins, meaning this wine will have some aging potential; I’m thinking 5-7 years. This blend is pretty classical and refreshingly so, with an excellent and lasting finish. This is the sort of wine for the more elegant roasts of beef or lamb… not quite grilled stuff, as there aren’t quite the tannins to align with the char of a grilled steak, but slow-roasted leg of lamb or a prime rib roast… that’s the ticket.

Posted by Joke at 10:12 AM 0 comments

Sunday, April 05, 2009

This way lies madness.

Sometimes things, good and excellent things in and of themselves, contaminate other things.

The criteria by which X is judged to be excellent is used as a yardstick for Y. Y, sadly, suffers. Y becomes a shadow of its former self. Sucks to like Y as originally constituted.

"Speak English!" I can hear the exceedingly lovely and wildly gracious Poppy fulminating.


I'm talking cocktails.

Last night a small brigade of people ostensibly rekated to me by ties of blood descended upon my house. They intended to dine and play board games all night long. For some reason, I decided to go with a Mexican motif for potables and edibles -- mostly because fajitas lend themselves to a semi-self-serve-roll-your-own approach which cuts down on the effort required of me.

Which is fine.

Now, seeing as I had an abundance of limes Margaritas were requested. Sadly, since I was caught unprepared, I had no resources to draw upon except for the top-shelf raw materials. So the disappointment was keen when people basically demanded what amounts to be a tequila-inflected slushy limeade.

The problem is all the slushy tropical fruit drinks.

They are relatively weak, rather fruity, slushily cold, and quite sweet. Which is fine.

But not every drink is meant for such a fate. Only now anyone requesting a drink with even chemical traces of fruit juices wants a sticky-sweet snow-cone. Which bothers me immensely.



Posted by Joke at 11:52 AM 11 comments

Thursday, April 02, 2009

In which Joke reveals he has created a monster.

NOS walked into my room last night, interrupting a very enjoyable read.

He issued a preamble. Something along the lines of:

NOS: Dad, do you remember that you said that if I was doing really well in school I could have any car I wanted?
Me: (suspicious) Any car within reason.
NOS: Yeah. That.
Me: Uh huh.
NOS: When would that be?
Me: When you turn 16.
NOS: OK. That's what I thought.
NOS (cont'd.): But if I do really well this year could I get a treat?
Me: Sure, depends on how well and what the treat is.
NOS: A tuxedo.
Me: Well, as soon as you have a reason to wear one, we can talk about it. What do you need a tuxedo for?
NOS: Nothing. It'd just be cool to have.

Was I this insufferable when I was 11½?


Posted by Joke at 9:16 AM 9 comments

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Unimportant updates.

There is nothing important to update, but lots of little things.

Most of you said to shut my yap about jinxing things. You were right. In fact, just by mentioning it, I jinxed it. The appliance in question was my espresso machine that needs a new tank gasket. Which is all of $4 and 30 minutes out of my life, granted, but I was really hoping to avoid this. (It dribbles a little bit, but if left too long to its dribbleage, it soon becomes something requiring a towel.)

File that under "Lessons Learned The Hard Way."

I have found a most excellent source of KFP Coke. The first place I went had a complete run on them, to my dismay. Yesterday, however, I chanced to stop by another place -- they are not that far from each other, incidentally, so the demographics should be the same -- and they had veritable oceans of the stuff, languishing. They even had them in the special Kosher section of the store, with a big sign in Hebrew and English and the imprimatur of some official rabbi. No takers. Either that neighborhood is littered with anti-Semites, is a branch office of the Gaza strip, or it's up to the eyeballs in lapsed Jews. I kid you not. I could have filled the loading bay of my wife's minivan with the KFP Coke thrice over.

Stunned by this stroke of good fortune, I neglected to see if they had them in the small glass bottles, which is the optimal Coke delivery system.

File under "Live and learn."

On the matter of dishes and so forth, my beloved keeps reminding me that, when we married, we put on our bridal registry a certain pattern of "fine china" (in sharp contradistinction to our "everyday" china) and in the almost 16 years of wedded bliss we have not eaten the first crumb off this china. Ditto the sterling, and the crystal. Does that stop me from pouncing when I see a new something in our pattern? No. It does not. Shortly before the world ended, I managed to secure an espresso set in our (discontinued!) china pattern.

File under "How Am I Married?" or "Starting to sense a pattern, here."

And unrelated to anything (again) and with the foreknowledge this will cause an unwelcome spike in my Google numbers, I have to make a comment about sluts.

Yes, sluts.

By this I don't mean the original* Dickensian definition of the term (a slovenly, unkempt woman, IIRC) but the common, everyday definition popularly assigned thereto.

Now, there was a point in my life (ca. 1978 - 1991) when my views on sluts were broadminded and enlightened and -- on this point I took infinite pride -- quite progressive. Sluts migrated throughout the countryside and I said "let them" while still realizing that migration was not the primary activity of the slut. It's not far from the truth that I viewed their doings (migratory and otherwise) with benevolence and kindliness.

The age of [spit]disco[/disco] encouraged slutfulness. Conscripted by the zeitgeist many became sluts, if not in a fully committed sense, at least to one degree or another. Certainly the æsthetic was eagerly adopted. Let's pencil this in as the Golden Age of the Slut. If you are reading this, of course, you are almost certainly a wordly person. Modern, in the best sense of the word. You needn't be given much in the way of detail as to how one may spot someone who, with a great degree of confidence, may be considered to be a 2009 Edition Practicing** Slut.


While my views on slutlery have -- there's no getting around it -- narrowed somewhat noticeably in the last few years, I am still libertarian enough to live-and-let-live. So this whole preamble leads to nothing more than a statement of opinion. Here it is:

If you are going to be a slut -- or at least array yourself in such a way where slutivity will automatically be imputed upon you -- be mindful of your age. Be a slut all you want, just recognize that the calling card, as it were, for a woman, say, in her early 50s who was at the supermarket (studiously avoiding KFP Coke for all I know) is not the same as it would be for the same specimen in her 20s. You can look like an age appropriate*** slut. It's not an oxymoron.

If you don't heed this advice, don't complain when NOS and his friends -- innocently loading KFP Coke into the shopping trolley -- look at you as something a Martian dragged in. And prompting some rather unusual questions.

That is all.


* English, not having a governing body, has a marvelous ability to evolve and morph. As opposed to Spanish or French which are far more rigid.

** There are many former sluts. Which is fine.

*** An awareness of the ever-greater effect of gravity on one's person, for example.

Posted by Joke at 9:49 AM 5 comments