Pinot Noir #2

Jekel Pinot Noir 2004 – 2004 was not a good year for me. Fortunately, I don’t make wine, so it did not affect this bottle. Though I’d be telling a lie if I said something else didn’t ruin it. Perhaps “ruin” is too strong a word. This was a drinkable wine, in that it didn’t cut open the throat on the way down. It just stung a bit on the taste buds. This one sheemed “sharper” than most (read: the other) pinot noir I’ve tried – like it was attacking the tongue instead of gently caressing it. Other than that, I found this to be a rather forgettable wine – perhaps good in a pasta sauce or with a flank steak, but on its own, it has trouble supporting its own acerbicness.

On the other hand, it was the first wine I got for free by friends who were trying to pawn of “gifts” they’d received that they would never drink, so it might have gotten an extra half point or so because free things just taste better. 5/10

Riesling #1

Relax Riesling 2005 – I’m truthfully not exactly sure of the name of this sweet wine, because it’s German, and I am not fluent.  But that’s not where my confusion ends.  On the front (and one of the major selling points), in calm and reassuring white letters sits the word “RELAX”, etched nicely on the soothing blue bottle.  On the back, in a more typical abrasive German, sits the words “SCHMITT SOHNE” and then, below it in slightly less intimidating letters, the words “MOSEL-SAAR-RUWER”  We’re just gonna go with “Relax”

Rieslings, I can safely say, having tasted a stupidly expensive one, are typically sweeter wines, by which I mean they leave the toilet seat down and cuddle after sex.  I thoroughly enjoyed what the bottle describes as “intense flavors of apples and peaches with just a hint of citrus.”   But here’s the tough part to explain, and I can only do it by comparing it to vocal terms.  Pinot Grigio, a dryer white wine, tastes like a plosive sound might (the P or K sound), exploding with taste right on the front of your mouth.  The riesling, by contrast, is definitely the lateral flavor, opting to swim all around your mouth, particularly the side of the tongue, before falling down your esophagus in a swan dive of wineyness.  It is definitely the letter L of wines.

Where does this leave us?  Well, it was New Years when I drank this wine, and I had 3/4 of a bottle.  One would expect me to be pretty drunk, wouldn’t they?  Not at all – I scarcely felt the effects.  When I later examined the bottle, I noticed it contained only 9.5% alcohol, a surprisingly small amount.

The short answer is if you want a cheap ($11) bottle of riesling that tastes very good, buy Relax.  It frighteningly bordered on “desert wine”.  If you want to get drunk, I would recommend Mountain Dew and Vanilla Vodka.  6/10

Collections

I’ve found that if you tell people you collect something, people will buy it for you.  I have bought exactly zero of my monkeys, and only one of my spatulas.  And now that I write a fake wine column, I have been getting wine as a gift more frequently.  This is interesting.

I would like to publicly announce that I starting a big-boobed, fun, undiscriminating woman collection.  So there ya go.

Malbec #5

Kaiken Malbec 2003 – I have nothing particularly witty to say about this wine – there are no nifty stories, and I can’t even think of a way to throw in a reference to Bosom Buddies here, other than that.  It’s a great malbec, that simple.  Not the best, but solid.  At $13, it gets the job done, but it’s the same job a $10 malbec could get away with.  However, if you have $3 that are particularly pissing you off, spend them on Kaiken and you will not be sorry.  8/10

Prosecco #1

Zardetto Prosecco – Prossecco, coming from the Italian word for “I should do research”, is a sparkling wine, and boy did this one just sparkle.  It was actually a gift I had received a long time ago, and I drank it mainly because I don’t know how long sparkling wine keeps (even if unopened) in a refrigerator.  This was interesting, and ended up being a very dry drink that tasted not unlike champagne, but also not exactly.  It’s certainly not the type of drink to just plow through a bottle unless you don’t have taste buds, but it achieved its purpose, and would likely be a nice celebratory wine.  Not only that, but the name of this drink sounds like some old-school gangster leader, and that’s worth joking about while drinking.  It still only gets a 5/10, because it is not a leisure wine.

Atlantic City

So my supervisor (and attorney) Raul goes down to AC all the time. They know him by name at many places – he’s one of those guys. So when he asked me to come down, telling me we’d have a mini-suite at the Trump Plaza and a free comped dinner, I wasn’t about to turn that down. We were planning on playing the $100 hold’em tournament. I was stoked.

After my harrowing driving experience, I felt I had Lady Luck on my side for the weekend. So we get down and I hit some Let It Ride. I think I played 6 hands without even cashing once. I pick up and leave. I have $45 left of the $100 I was allocating for this, meaning I have 3 hands to play. I tell the lady “I only have three hands in me. Make them count.” I won my first 5 hands and put myself up $50 overall. Then they reshuffled the cards and my luck waned, but I managed to escape after 45 minutes with only losing $25. I’ll take it.

We go to dinner, drink a $92 bottle of Riesling, which I shall review later, and ate a $250 dinner for the price of tip. Not shabby. Then on to the Hold’em tournament. Only 25 people in it, and the price was more than we thought ($125), but first place took home $1500+. I could have done for that.

I also could have done for cards – seriously, I can’t even evaluate my play because aside from pocket queens (once), my best hand was K10 off suit. I mean, utter garbage. I bluffed a few hands, but nobody could win with the cards I was getting. I got knocked out unceremoniously and went back downstairs while Raul and Mike were betting ludicrous amounts of money at a cash game.

I took out $120 (something I was kinda against) and played the table game version of hold’em (just beat the dealer, essentially) Cards were terrible. I lost. It was my biggest loss ever at a casino, totally $270 (which puts me almost exactly even at AC in general)

What amazes me is that, bearing all this in mind, I had no real shenanigans. Just bad luck. I guess having my life saved the night before was enough luck for a while. And really I can’t complain about that.

Merry Christmas to those who wish to hear that. To everyone else, Happy Holidays.

Near-Death Experience

Almost every part of me wants to ignore what just happened. It’s 4 in the morning – I am driving home from Kitt’s party, late at night, on a rainy (I hate NJ because of this) December night. I made it 3/4 the way home. Around exit 150 on the NJ Parkway, I am coasting along, fighting fatigue. I am in the left lane. Suddenly, I hit a patch of water I don’t see and I hydroplane. BADLY. My car slides 90 degrees right. I cut across two lanes of traffic and end up facing the wrong way on this 3-lane highway. I fishtail terribly. Throughout all of this, I am very calm, but I realize the terror of this situation – intellectually, I am waiting for some car to careen into me.  Somehow, I manage to pump my brakes and right myself with some fancy steering. I find myself in the right lane, facing correctly, and completely stopped. My car is panting, thoroughly exhausted, and even confused. I turn it off. Thinking quickly, I put on my hazard lights – the visibility is admittedly slight at best. A few cars swerve to miss me, some jutting into the shoulder to avoid me. I take a deep breath, restart my car, and slide it into drive, accelerating as fast as it will go.

I made it alive. Moreover, I made it thoroughly unscathed. I’m pretty emotionally beat up by this incident, but I’m perfectly healthy. I really don’t know who to thank – God? Fate? Michelin? I’m really really happy it was this late when this happened – if it were rush hour, I would be dead right now, and this journal entry would be much less here.
I’m still thoroughly spooked out. I hope I can sleep tonight. Thank you, to whoever deserves it. Whatever I might have said about my luck, I rescind. Thank you. I owe you one.

Malbec #4

Don Miguel Gascon Malbec 2004 – First of all, I’d like to give a shout-out to all my international wine-enthusiasts… wineaholics… they should really come up with a good word for “people who really really really like liquor”…  It’s nice to know that my fake wine reviews have global appeal.  And fittingly, this next wine is another Argentinian import.  In an impossibly tall bottle, this malbec is extremely dark in color, and extremely unadhesive in terms of feel.  It did not hold my painting up AT ALL.  However, it did go down pretty smoothely, though it lacked the certain yum-punch that several other of the malbecs have had.  This wasn’t an unenjoyable wine, and unlike the last malbec, this definitely tasted the part.  It just wasn’t the cream of the crop.  And at $10 a bottle, I expect it to be just that.  Still quite passable and a good alternative if you want something that comes in a tall bottle.  7/10

My first 8 Days of Work

Day 1: Came in late (at 10). Trained for about an hour. Started work. Left early (at 3)
Day 2: They repaired my computer which had been virused and installed $200 worth of software.  Suggested one of my best friends for a job here.
Day 3: Already doing what I will be doing full time. I begin training someone else.
Day 4: Work from home – wait all day for my phone to get hooked up. It doesn’t get hooked up until 4:45pm. Basically, I did nothing and was paid for it (boss was made aware that I did nothing) Office pays for the new phone line and installation.
Day 5: Come in. Train a new potential employee. He does my work (only one phone between us). I supervise the whole day. 1st office party after work. Much free alcohol.
Day 6: Back to normal work. 2nd office party after work. Much free alcohol. Stupidly nice 3-story “apartment” in the Upper West Side.
Day 7: Working from home. Wait until 2pm for my internet to get hooked up. Work for three hours. Work pays for the internet and hookup.  My friend that I suggested worked out an agreement and will be working here full time.
Day 8: In a meeting from 10pm until 4pm. Then we exchange office holiday gifts. I get liquor and porn.

I think I like my job.

Buzzy’s Doubles

This weekend was the Buzzy’s Doubles tournament.  As of the morning of I had no partner.  I was just going to show up and have some fun.  The weather was unseasonably beautiful, hitting 50 degrees.  Plus, JASON HAAAAAASS would be there.  You might remember him from my tour, when I stayed with his beautiful wife and him in Ohio.  Good people.

So I ended up partnering with Anne Yondolino in the burgeoning ‘mixed’ division.  There were five teams.  The first round was ‘best disc’, where both teammates throw and you simply pick the better shot and both throw your second shot from there.  Anne and I played miserably.  Actually, I played miserably and Anne did all right.  She carried my sorry ass all over that course.  We ended up -5, which was NOT great.  We were three strokes off the lead (Adam and Jeannie, my good friends, shot a solid -8)

The second round (starting immediately after the first) was an interesting format called “Second Marriage” (also called ‘choice’)  One player shoots, and if it’s good, you can take it and the second player never shoots.  If it’s not great, the second player shoots but you are MARRIED to that shot (you must take it no matter what)  This is some interesting strategy.  Anne stepped up to the plate, though, and played REALLY REALLY well.  She drove first on almost every hole, and for three straight holes, I didn’t touch a disc because her shots were good enough each time.  We ended up shooting a mirror image round of -5, making up three strokes and putting us in a tie with Adam and Jeannie (with 5 strokes separating us and the third place team)

After a short break, we played round three, which was a modified best disc round.  It’s normal best-disc, except you can’t use one person’s drive more than two holes in a row. I like this format and think it suits the mixed division well.  Finally, I took my head out of my arse and started throwing some decent shots.  I ended up hitting probably about 5 or 6 good putts on the tournament (missing four easy ones, but that still comes out ahead).  We ended up shooting a very solid -6, giving us a 4 stroke victory, and a super $35 each to pocket on our $10 investment.

It was a great day of fun, and most importantly, the TD Roach’s wife had suggested that everyone bring an unwrapped toy to donate to the battered women’s shelter that Buzzy’s always donates to.  It was a great tournament, and I’m glad we were able to do something good for Christmas (even if I brain farted and forgot a toy… I’ll donate extra during the ice bowl)

Up next?  Who knows?

My Dream Last Night

So at the start of my dream, there was a very large albatross on the street of some unnamed city.  I was almost immediately taken away to a “side-dream”, something completely unrelated.  It was at my old church and I remember very little of this part of the dream.  Then I went back to the other part, and I saw the albatross in this large bucket type thing plummeting into a very very deep well and splashing into some water at the bottom.

Right then, Iron Maiden music started playing.  As I scaled down the side ladders of the well, I noticed this beautiful woman also descending.  I pointed out to her that it’s funny they’re playing Maiden, because Maiden wrote “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, a song based on the Coleridge poem.  (The albatross falls from his neck… sinks down like lead… into the sea)  She pointed out that this WASN’T that song, it was a slower song I’ve never heard of (though I recognized Bruce Dickinson’s vocals immediately)  She said, “Listen to the lyrics”  I did.  They were something like: “If you’re in danger, walk away.  Walk away.  Walk away.”  And suddenly I realized this was a trap.

I started to bolt up the ladders and I could see she was too, a little behind me.  When we were almost at the top, I could see an explosion below and I raced harder.  I knew I’d make it, but I didn’t know about her.  With one last burst of flames, she literally was blown out of the well.  She landed on the street in my arms.  I immediately knew who she was – she was this girl I’d met online in real life but hadn’t met in person (of course didn’t look like her, but it’s one of those oneiric conventions where even though they’re NOT the person, you know they are)

We soon were unfettered and hanging out with this man and this woman.  The man was some authoritative figure that I didn’t really like, and he was definitely hitting on my new woman.  I got the impression that Ashley was SUPPOSED to be with him (like they had been on a first date that night, or something like that), but I could tell she liked me and I liked her.  I think we even verbally confirmed it.  So I sorta acted uncommonly brazen for me.  And at one point, she was wearing this blanket to keep warm, and I was touching her knee under it.  The other woman, either jealous or trying to make sure I knew the man would NOT approve, said “I know your hand is under that blanket and on her knee,” and I turned around and confidently smiled, “I know.  That’s why I’m wiggling my fingers, in case both you didn’t notice.”

I woke up, pretty satisfied with myself there.

My Least Favorite 5

I’m sometimes branded as negative. But I also posted my favorite 117 songs on here, with descriptions of all. So I tend to think I’m “passionate”, whether positive or negative, about many things. But while plodding through a book I just can’t get into (which is rare), I thought of what things I definitely disliked. I can only think of three lists right now, but let’s try it:

Least Favorite Movies

5. 10 Things I Hate About You

4. Resevoir Dogs (tied with all of Tarrantino’s films, really)

3. Romeo & Juliet

2. The Royal Tannenbaums

1. Napoleon Dynamite

Least Favorite Books

5. Apollo 13 by Jeffrey Kluger and James Lovell – It reads like a NASA handbook, not a novel.  Seriously, watch the movie – it’s much better.

4. Catch 22 by Joseph Heller – I’ve tried to get through this one a few times, and it’s really giving me problems
3. The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje – I’ve never seen the movie, but I can’t fathom it being any more boring than the book

2. A Passage to India by E.M. Forster – I read 44 pages of this book for English class in high school and told the teacher I refused to read another page. It would be #1 except I got an A on the essay/oral report about the main themes of the book, a feat that still impresses me to this day, and infuriated the teacher.

1. The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro – There were dents, scrapes, and tears in my book where I had slammed it into a wall while reading it, and I read every one of its 544 pages. Just an infuriating book.

5 Bands I Don’t Understand Why People Like So Much (I hesitate to say my least favorite, because there are bands I’d certainly rather NOT hear than these, but are just head scratchers for me)

5. Rush – Okay, I know Neil Peart is a great drummer, but Geddy Lee sounds like one of the Chipmunks

4. Gnarls Barkley – “Crazy” might very well be the worst song ever written

3. U2 – I just don’t get it

2. Red Hot Chilli Peppers – While there are a few exceptions (mainly in their earlier days) I can’t think of another band who churns out such uninspired drivel that so consistently gets airplay

1. Neil Young – Nails on a chalkboard

Sauvignon Blanc #1

MAN vintners Sauvignon Blanc 2005 – It will readily become apparent where the problem with my wine review column is: I don’t know very much about wine.  More specifically, I don’t know what I normally like and dislike.  So when I try these new wines, I don’t know if it’s a bad brand, or if I just plum don’t like the type of wine altogether.  I now see that not only will this column be an expensive venture, but a potentially very stupid one as I try countless brands of a wine that, no matter how good the winery, still tastes like backwash.  Nevertheless, I have people that rely on my wise words before choosing their wine.  I’m their elitest lifeboat.  I typed “lifebat”  I think that might be more appropriate.

Anyway, onto the MAN vintners, which I bought specifically for the bold MAN on the label.  It’s from South Africa, so I’ll let slide that they used a screw-cap and not a cork (I don’t know, maybe they’re afraid of cork down there…)  Now, this was not a great wine.  Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t terrible, but it had a weird taste that kinda sat in my mouth long after I had swallowed it.  Although I did find that, like most wines, it tasted better the more I had.  But then I noticed the weirdest thing (how I didn’t notice it first is beyond me).  The smell was terrible.  Really awful.  I don’t know if my cup was dirty or something, or just these grapes had pungent skin, but it was like inhaling roadkill right before eating ice cream.  The taste was certainly better than the smell.

All in all, this was a mediocre wine, and I’ll need to try more Sauv Blancs before I start writing educated reviews on the subject.  I’d say save the $9 here and just sniff a dead raccoon.  Then go drink some good wine.  It gets a 4/10.

Lucky vs. Unlucky

I consider myself an unlucky person. This is not a surprise – I have people often chastise me for how vehemently I assert my unluckiness. It’s a pretty broad spectrum too, my areas of unluck. In disc golf, it’s notceable as I seem to hit the most trees and get the least favorable rolls (this has been backed by a few people). It’s evident in my creative work (both the awards for ‘best new play’ that I wrote didn’t go to me, they went to the producer). In fact, it’s evident less specifically in my professional life (my first NYC-produced play saw my director quit the week before the show and the cast being pulled from other, better-rehearsed shows to fill in gaps) It appears in my ability to decide when to get a warranty. (Every single time I have opted NOT to get a warrantee for something, it has broken down. And those that I have gotten warranties have broken down just after the warranty expired, and any long-term warranties I’ve gotten, the products have worked perfectly throughout. Case in point: my laptop, containing all of my writing [some of which is not backed up] and tons of irreplaceable stuff, just broke down last night, not even turning on [I’m typing from my work computer] The 1-year warranty expired on 12/1.) And my luck in love? Let’s not even go there.

But it took me until today to realize that I think I’m so unlucky HERE because there are two areas in which I am very lucky. Almost unrealistically lucky. (And I’m ignoring here the ‘generic lucky’; that I am alive, that I am in relatively good health, have enough money to at least live, and have a great family and good friends) I mean, those are BIG things to overlook, I understand, but let’s just glaze by them for a minute. Aside from these, there are still two areas in which I am fortunate.

1) Apartments. It’s true, in my life, whenever I’ve needed an apartment, one has presented itself. When my dad told me he was moving out to NC and that Mitch and I either needed to find our own place or move with him, we found that Jeff J. was looking to move out, and we found a great (albeit expensive) place to rent in Wayne. Right as money became an issue there, a friend of mine needed a roommate and a cheap place to live, so we moved into a cheaper (but still nice and almost entirely safe) place in Montclair. Then, almost a year later, having run into roommate problems there, another great friend, Aaron, needed to move out for precisely the same reason I moved out in the first place. He and I together found a great place within weeks of looking for one. It was reasonably priced, in a fantastic neighborhood, and it allowed more stupidity than is safe. Finally, when he was set to move out (for marriage purposes), not ONE DAY had gone by when an amazing opportunity presented itself, and I now live there, a fantastic 2BR apartment (which I hope some day to actually take pictures of and post here.) So for some inexplicable reason, apartments come easily. (You’ll even notice that every reason that caused a need to move, the new apartment had an exact solution for that problem)
2) Jobs. Much in the same way of apartment-hunting, I’ve never once had to job hunt. After landing the job at Coda in 1996 just because two of my brothers worked there (I previously had had no full-time experience, though in high school I always had work every summer, which was admittedly convenient). After five years part-time there, I realized I was making nothing for money and needed to move on to some place that didn’t involve breathing noxious fumes and standing up for 8 hours a day. I got a call from a temp agency to work for Cambridge, where I ended up spending the next two and a half years. It was great, it was sedentary (good for an ailing back), and the pay was decent. I even began to run my own department after a while. But the management there really killed me, and I looked to get out. After three months off (voluntarily) I knew money was an issue, and no sooner had I begun looking for a job than my friend Kitt called me about a job opening in Montclair doing theatre electrics. Again, completely underqualified, I got the job, and within a year was one of the main guys here, and often times the master electrician of shows. Of course, this too became unreliable – the pay was great, but I was (am) rarely getting full hours.

So as I began to think that I might need another desk job, Raul (my old supervisor at Cambridge and also attorney) called me up an arranged for me to meet with the company he works for as an interim job. I met with them today, and was offered work on the spot. It guarantees me 40 hours a week for the next four months (what more can I ask for) at a comparable rate to what I’m making at the theatre. It also allows me to work nights at the theatre if I want extra money. Oh, and did I mention I’m predominantly working from home? Yup, I’ll be talking to attorneys while not wearing any pants. Oh, and they’re going to install the new land line in my apartment. Beyond those four months, I will likely have a full-time job working for Raul, who will have amassed enough work to warrant having me as an assistant. That will likely lead to stability yet flexibility, and hopefully benefits.

Oh, and the kicker? They’re fixing my completely broken computer as part of the package.

Am I lucky? Not wholly. Am I as unlucky as I like to profess? Not on your life.

Though if any girls would like to date me and solve my disluck with women, I suggest doing so by filling out this formal application. Thank you.

Pinot Grigio #5

Fetzer Pinot Grigio 2005 – If it makes anyone feel better, I am getting self-conscious about pretty much limiting my wine reviews to malbecs and pinot grigios, so after this, I’m going to make a concerted effort to expand my horizons.  But hey, if I’m going to be spending a precious $6-$12 a bottle, I want to make sure I enjoy it, right?  Back to the matter at hand, this pinot was a little strange.  Its initial flavor kinda smacked you right in the backsides of your throat.  It was an thoraxal ass-slapping, to be sure.  It’s not bad, but it was a bit tart immediately.  Then as it “settled” (by which I mean literally pitched camps and overthrew Indians), it gained a distinctly smooth grigio flavor that I’ve come to depend upon.  So it was a good wine, and I enjoyed it, despite it not being the best pinot to date.  The fact that the bottle proudly boasts that it is a 9-time recipient of Winery of the Year from Wine and Spirit Magazine did not, in any way, affect my voting.  In fact, I only just noticed it now.  It gets a 6.5/10.

Malbec #3

Reserva Nieto Senetiner Malbec 2004 – This absurdly long-winded wine is another from the fields of Mendoza, Argentina, and I can’t help but notice right away that the malbec grape of Mendoza is apparently adopted.  This was not a malbec at all.  I mean, it SAID it was, but it was merely a sheep in wolves clothing.  That’s right, this Malbec was really wooly-tasting.  No, actually, it tasted quite a bit like a cabernet sovignon or a Merlot (neither of which I’ve reviewed yet, so I’m not sure which it is).  It wasn’t necessarily that it was bad, but it just wasn’t a malbec.  It was the darkest color wine I’ve ever had, which would be good if I was trying to hide something in it, but I wasn’t.  I was trying to enjoy it, and that I didn’t necessarily do.  5/10.

Website Counters

So I have two different website tracking programs that allow me to see how many people look at my site every day.  One of them tells me that the most visits I’ve had on any given day in the last two weeks is 13 visits.  The other source says the fewest visits I’ve had in one day in that same period of time is 89.  These numbers aren’t even close!

Now I know how politicians get their statistics.

Blush #1

Folonari Pink Pinot Grigio 2005 – I’ve opted for simply making all rose wines in one catergory, whether it be a true rose (like a white zinfindel) or one of the many new combinations they’re coming up with (like white merlots, or just ‘house blush’ if the mood fits)  One thing to bear in mind when drinking a blush wine: your masculinity will immediately be called into question.  Know this, and be prepared to get into a fistfight, if need be.  Now this wine, which surprisingly comes from Italy, was a delightful surprise.  At around $11 base price, I was expected something that tasted sorta like Pinot but with hints of suck.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  This was a delicious wine if you don’t mind getting your ass kicked for it.  It was slightly sweeter than a typical Pinot, while not being bad-face-making sweet.  I would definitely get this one again, if it were to surface at a cheap price.  If it’s full price, I got other wines to sample.  About a hundred thousand of them.  This wine review column has a way to go.  Folonari Pink Pinot Grigio gets an 8/10.  Good job.

Pinot Grigio #4

Cavit Pinot Grigio 2005 – For Thanksgiving, my plan was lots of wine at not a great deal of price. So I bought the Cavit 1.5L bottle. In the “discount wines” section (which is the area of the wine store that people with no self-respect go), Cavit is the most expensive wine, though it’s pretty much like calling it the tallest midget. It was exactly what you’d expect from at $14 bottle of MUCH wine. Quite drinkable if you’re a Pinot fan (much better than the Beringer, and infitely better than the Barefoot variety). It was a nice compliment to a delicious Thanksgiving dinner. 6/10.