Monday, February 28, 2005

My love number is "2". What's a love number?

Your Love Number is


Of all the numbers, you are the most caring and empathetic lover.
Unselfish and humble, you find it easy to forgive your sweetie's mistakes.
At times, your need to please can be come a bit too needy.
As long as you remain somewhat independent, your relationships are perfectly balanced.

Who'da thunk it?

Your Seduction Style: The Charmer

You're a master at intimate conversation and verbal enticement.
You seduce with words, by getting people to open up to you.
By establishing this deep connection quickly, people feel under your power.
And then you've got them exactly where you want them!

Well, that's news to me. I'm not sure about these quizzes any more. Sounds good though. I don't know if I'm charming or smarmy. The quiz says charming, so I'll go with that.


An "F" in Oscars...

D'oh! I was 10 for 24 in my Oscar predictions. Not bad considering that I've only seen four of the movies mentioned all night (Sideways,Troy, Shrek 2, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). My correct choices below are in BOLD.

Best Picture: The Aviator
Best Actor: Jamie Foxx for Ray
Best Actress: Annette Bening for Being Julia
Best Supporting Actor: Morgan Freeman for Million Dollar Baby
Best Supporting Actress: Laura Linney for Kinsey
Best Director: Clint Eastwood for Million Dollar Baby
Best Original Screenplay: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind -- Charlie

Best Adapted Screenplay: Finding Neverland -- David Magee
Cinematography: The House of Flying Daggers
Editing: The Aviator
Art Direction: The Aviator
Costume Design: Troy
Original Score: Finding Neverland
Original Song: "Accidentally in Love" from Shrek 2
Makeup: The Passion of the Christ
Sound: The Aviator
Sound Editing: Spider-Man 2
Visual Effects: I, Robot
Best Animated Feature Film: Shrek 2
Best Foreign Language Film: The Sea Inside (Spain)
Best Documentary Feature: Born Into Brothels: Calcutta
Best Documentary Short: The Children of Leningradsky
Best Live Action Short: Wasp
Best Animated Short: Gopher Broke

Hopefully I'll have better luck next year. Hopefully I'll get out to the movies more often, as well.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

I belong in the UK...

You Belong in the UK


A little proper, a little saucy.

You're so witty and charming...

No one notices your curry breath

I am this rejected crayon color...

You are

D'oh! You find out which rejected crayon color you are by entering the color of underwear you're wearing. I entered "paisley" as it's closest to the boxers that I've got on.

My Oscar predictions...

These are my predictions for the Academy Awards tonight. These are my guesses as to who/what WILL win, but not necessarily those that I think SHOULD win. I'll follow up afterward and see how I did...

Best Picture: The Aviator
Best Actor: Jamie Foxx for Ray
Best Actress: Annette Bening for Being Julia
Best Supporting Actor: Morgan Freeman for Million Dollar Baby
Best Supporting Actress: Laura Linney for Kinsey
Best Director: Clint Eastwood for Million Dollar Baby
Best Original Screenplay: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind -- Charlie
Best Adapted Screenplay: Finding Neverland -- David Magee
Cinematography: The House of Flying Daggers
Editing: The Aviator
Art Direction: The Aviator
Costume Design: Troy
Original Score: Finding Neverland
Original Song: "Accidentally in Love" from Shrek 2
Makeup: The Passion of the Christ
nd: The Aviator
Sound Editing: Spider-Man 2
Visual Effects: I, Robot
Best Animated Feature Film: Shrek 2
Best Foreign Language Film: The Sea Inside (Spain)
Best Documentary Feature: Born Into Brothels: Calcutta
Best Documentary Short: The Children of Leningradsky
Best Live Action Short: Wasp
Best Animated Short: Gopher Broke


Thursday, February 24, 2005

Fun with industry jargon...

Just thought I'd share with you some of the jargon, slang, and phrases that exist in both the restaurant and wine business...

86 (eighty-six)-To be out of an item.
"In the weeds"-To be hopelessly behind, either as a server or in the kitchen. See also
"slammed", "buried", "slammed", "swamped"
door whore-host/hostess
front of the house-the dining room and dining room staff
back of the house-kitchen, dishroom, storage, etc. and its staff
crop dust-To fart in another server's section.
monkey dish-A small, shallow bowl/dish for serving "sides".
gooseneck-Similar to a gravy boat
fire-The verbal command to cook a dish. "Fire a salmon dinner on the hook!"
"on the hook"-To "fire" something quickly. It's needed in a hurry.
"on the fly"-see "on the hook"
deuce-a table for two
two-top-see "deuce"
cover- A guest. Also a meal. "I did sixty covers tonight."
comp-A free drink, dessert, etc.
shafted-To receive no tip from a table.
stiffed-See "shafted"
European-see "shafted" or "stiffed"
cut-To let a server leave early.
nuts-Slang for "meatballs" (I don't know if this is universal, but I have first-hand
double-To work two shifts in a row.
split-shift-To work two shifts in a row with a break between them.
burnout-A condition caused by waiting tables for too many years.
turn over-To have a table leave and seat a new party
"turn and burn"-To get your tables in and out in a hurry so that your section may be re-sat as many times as possible.
I need a side of "Shut the fuck up!"-Usually a server telling someone on the line (a cook) to shut the fuck up.
hell-Mother's Day
B&B-bread and butter plate
well-done steak-retarded
Pittsburgh Blue-Charred RARE
butterflied-A way to make a steak retarded even quicker.
wear/wearing-To have a sauce on something.

"This wine is like making love on the's fucking close to water."

a Mel Brooks wine-"Nice...nice. Not thrilling, but nice." (Taken from History of the World Part I. To describe a very average wine. This is not universal, but exists only at my job.)

corked-A wine is "corked" when it is tainted with TCA (2,4,6-trichloranisole). TCA may occur after cork contact with chlorine (either direct bleaching of corks or acid-rain contact with the cork tree). TCA is harmless but will cause a wine to smell musty, moldy, funky, or like wet cardboard or a wet dog.

Brett-Short for "Brettanomyces". A spoilage yeast found in many wines made at less hygienic wineries. Often found in many French wines. It often makes a wine smell like a barnyard or an elephant's asshole. Many people enjoy the "barnyard" aroma.


Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Rhymes with "orange"...

Apparently there's no word that rhymes with "orange". Well...why don't I make up a new word?

How about "forange"?
forange - 1. (verb) To forage for oranges. 2. (noun) A decorative saddle made of hemp designed to fit a squirrel.

There you sure to use this word frequently until it comfortably integrates itself into the lexicon of the English language and eventually become recognized by Webster's. Eventually the saying "rhymes with orange" will become moot and historians will cite me in the annals of world history as being the person to bring it to an end. Thanks in advance for your expected support.


Celebrity crushes throughout history...

I've borrowed the idea from a good friend who borrowed the idea from someone else. Here are 10 celebrity crushes I've had in chronological (somewhat) order since I was a child...

1. Kim Richards- I didn't even know her name until I looked her up. I remember developing a crush on her when I was quite young. She starred in Escape From Witch Mountain and Return to Witch Mountain when she was quite young. Actually she grew up quite gracefully if I recall and became quite hot.

2. Kristy McNichol- I remember loving her in The Pirate Movie. A horrible film, but damn was she cute.

3. Tracy Austin- I just vaguely having some sort of infatuation with the pro tennis player for a stint in my young life.

4. Jill Whelan- "Vicki" on The Love Boat.

5. Dana Plato- Before she became an addict, robber, and dead person.

6. Erin Gray- The ONLY reason to watch Buck Rogers. Thankfully people always seem to wear skin-tight clothes in the future (on TV).

7. Khrystyne Haje- She played "Simone" on Head of the Class. Wow! There's nothing better than smart, pale, gorgeous redhead.

8. Olivia D'Abo- She played the older sister on The Wonder Years. There's nothing better than a sexy Englishwoman playing an American hippie.

9. Sherilyn Fenn- She played "Audrey" in Twin Peaks. Damn! One of the sexiest TV characters ever! She still makes my jaw drop.

10. Number ten would bring us to the current day and age. I must say that I can't narrow it down to one so here are several celebrities that I have a crush on...
Kate Winslet, Isabella Rosellini, Julie Delpy, Thandie Newton, Audrey Tautou, Keira Knightley, Scarlett Johansson, Juliette Binoche, Irene Jakob, Milla Jovovich, Emanuelle Beart, Parker Posey, Lili Taylor, and Jennifer Connelly.

Some other turn-ons in the 80's (and still) were Jennifer Jason Leigh, Phoebe Cates, Jami Gertz, Cyndi Lauper, and Daphne Zuniga.

There was also the time I tried to get Davey Jones to sing at the school dance. He was dreamy. Just kidding...

I don't know if this can qualify as a crush as she is no longer with us and her career peaked before my existence, but my candidate for one of the most stunningly beautiful people to ever walk this earth is...Audrey Hepburn. Absolutely, jaw-droppingly, breathtakingly gorgeous. Perfect! We'll never see anyone like her again. Her kind, philanthropic nature only make her more beautiful.


Sunday, February 20, 2005

And the gay "Simpsons" character is ...


Australia: Day Three...

...and the saga continues. Again

Thursday, October 9, 2003

I'm lying in my train "bed" and still not sleeping as the sun begins to show itself. The land is flat, red, and spotted with bushes. There's nothing to see for miles. It's barren and desolate. I'm in the Outback. It's absolutely beautiful! Shades of pink, orange, and crimson are bunching at the horizon. The colors of the morning sky intertwined with the wispy clouds are really beyond words. It looks as if the sky has a textural quality and I can't wait to touch it, but the horizon proves limitless. It's really quite surreal. The light, powdery blue of the sky teasingly mingles with the bright, glowing, warming shades of the Australian morning sun. If I weren't in such cramped, uncomfortable quarters this would be heaven on earth. I can't believe that I'm watching the sunrise in the Outback from a moving train. As I'm gazing into the vastness of it all my eyes fixate on something in the distance...kangaroos. Yup. I'm officially in Australia. Reality is kicking in at this point. My life-long dream has come true. I'm in friggin' Australia! I saw three kangaroos in the distance. I think they were "reds". Wow! I'm dead-tired, but still running on adrenaline. That gorgeous sunrise and the sight of the kangaroos gave me an extra boost. I folded my "bed" into the wall and sat down in my seat and took it in for a while. I changed clothes without showering. I'll save that for Adelaide. I sauntered down to the lounge car for some coffee and conversation. Brittney saw kangaroos too. No one else did. The others still have some time to see a kangaroo.

It's early morning and the train has a stop to make. We stopped in a town called Broken Hill. Broken Hill is a small outback town in New South Wales. It used to be a booming silver town also known as "Silver City". The mining is mostly gone, but it still seems to get by. There are the occasional tourists and films being made. There are some scenes in The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert that are shot in Broken Hill. (If you haven't seen Priscilla, it's a must. It's a fabulous film with Terrance Stamp, Hugo Weaving, and Guy Pearce. It's funny, colorful, and touching.) Nichole is the only person in our group to go on the bus tour as the rest of us walk into town. It's early (probably around 7:00AM). There's not much open, but we've got about an hour and a half or so. There is a bakery open. I get myself a "short black" and a Vegemite roll. (Vegemite is a substance that is made from the residuals of brewers yeast. It's salty and has sort of a concentrated bouillion character.) Jan from the AWB watches as I take my first bite. Vegemite is an acquired taste, let's just say. I like it. Apparently I've acquired the taste on the firts bite. The breakfast concoction somewhat resembled a cinnamon roll, but with cheese and vegemite. Good stuff. Jan was a little surprised, but pleased that I liked it. We sort of split up into small groups and walked around a bit more. Broken Hill is big enough for a Happy Jacks (Burger King). Apparently someone already had the rights to the BK name in Australia, so there are lots of Happy Jacks around. They're exactly the same except for the name. The Chinese restaurant is closed. Everything is closed. It's too early. Everyone is still sleeping. I find the infamous Palace Hotel from Priscilla and have my picture taken in front of it. I can't believe I'm posing in front of one of the locales from one of my favorite movies. We walk around a bit more as there's not much to see this time of day. Walking back toward the train we discover that there's a cafe that has opened. I have another coffee and order a sausage roll to tide me over until breakfast. We sit and read one of the tabloids until it's time to head back to the glorious Indian Pacific. We board the train and wait until it's our car's turn for breakfast. Breakfast is lovely with a great view of the Outback. After breakfast we head to the conference car for further seminars. We pass the time with discussion and tasting with the occasional Willy Willy (dust devil) sightings as we push our rattling glasses back into place on our paper tasting-placemats.

At approximately 3:15PM we arrive at our destination...Adelaide. We are to stay in Adelaide for a few days. We deboard the train, gather our luggage, and are whisked away by bus to the fabulous Adelaide Hilton. Adelaide is a beautiful city at first sight. We get off the bus at the hotel and check-in. I have a room on the top floor of the Hilton with a view of the city and the ocean in the distance. Awesome! My room is incredible. The bed is huge and super comfortable and the bathroom is unreal. I have a gigantic shower with a rain-head in the ceiling and shower-massager and a large and inviting bath tub on the other side of the bathroom. I like this place... a lot. The first thing I do is get out of my train-clothes and take one of the best showers of my life (the best being in Sydney after getting off the plane). I like this place. I have a grand view of the city AND my window actually opens. I open the window and the most comforting, soothing breeze takes over me. The air is clean, fresh, and embracing. I like this place. I've stayed in a few Hiltons and Adelaide is by far the nicest that I've encountered. I freshen up and put my clothes away as I've got a few days here. I even take advantage of the laundry services. I iron a couple of shirts in the room, get dressed, and head out to take on Adelaide. Luckily, the Adelaide Central Market is right next door to the hotel. The Adelaide Central Market is a glorious gathering of assorted fruit/coffee/bakery/seafood/meat/gift/etc. booths and shops. It's really wonderful. I run into Sara and we walk around a bit enjoying the smells, sights, and sounds. We separate and I walk around a bit more until it's time to meet in the hotel lobby. It's time to head to dinner...

We take a bus to Chateau Reynella in Reynella for dinner. The sun has almost set as we arrive and the sky again is full of a surreal palette of colors. The air is cool and crisp and utterly refreshing. We make our way to the Chateau and get a mini-tour of the grounds and then we're led inside. There's a weird noise eminating from inside. We enter the Chateau and then turn into a fairly large hall where we're greeted by a mini menagerie. The winery has arranged for us to meet some of the local animals. Workers from a local wildlife/zoological group have brought a python, a cockatoo, a koala, and a baby wallaby for us play with while we enjoy some sparkling wine and passed hors d'oeuvres (including an amazing truffled celeriac soup shooter). That was really cool. I got to pet a koala, a wallaby, a python, and a cockatoo. I took a bunch of pictures and enjoyed the bubbles until we were led into the dining room. The table setting was truly incredible. A gorgeous and inventive floral arrangement on the table was further accented by a crackling fire in the fireplace. Oops. I forgot to mention something. While we were in the hotel lobby waiting to leave I saw someone that I recognized. I mentioned to Philippa that I thought I knew that guy. Turns out that a gentleman I knew from the wine business was in town on holiday with his fiance. Small world. The company that he worked for at the time actually represented Chateau Reynella and he'd be joining us for dinner. We were joined by he and his fiance, representatives of the winery, and Marty from Starvedog Lane. Dinner was sensational! The courses are listed as follows...

S.A. Baby Squid Stuffed with Shellfish & Chorizo, Soft Polenta, Zhoug Dressing & Crayfish Oil.

Hahndorf Venison Loin, Parsnip & Sage Puree, New Season Asparagus, Fondant Potatoes, Kumquat & Anise Reduction.

Heidi Raclette (Tasmania), Matisse Fig Bread, Cherry Paste, Muscatels

Callebaut Dark Chocolate Fondant, Pure Jersey Cream, Orange Zestt White Chocolate Sauce, Toasted Pistachio

Coffe and Petit Fours

Some of the wines we enjoyed were...

1998 Arras Chardonnay Pinot Noir (Sparkling)
2001 The Lane Sauvignon Blanc
2003 Brookland Valley Estate Sauvignon Blanc
2001 Starvedog Lane Chardonnay
2000 Yarra Burn Pinot Noir
2000 Yarra Burn Cabernet Sauvignon
1997 Leasingham Bin 56 Cabernet Malbec
1998 Eileen Hardy Shiraz
1999 Ebenezer Shiraz
1999 E&E Sparkling Shiraz

We had a damn fine evening and an amazing meal. We had an opportunity to share great conversation, laughter, insight, and most importantly each other's company. I had an opportunity to meet the Irish-born chef and talk to him for a bit. He's young and very talented and has a very bright future ahead of him. Eventually it was time to bid farewell to our gracious hosts and we headed back to the hotel. A large chunk of the group decided to go to a pub after dinner, but I thought that I'd stay in. A few of us retired to our rooms. I would have gone to the pub, but I figured that I should have ONE earlier night. Plus I haven't slept yet. I went to my room on the top floor (I don't know how, but I was the only person in our group to get an executive suite on the top floor. I do have a very good relationship with a certain importer involved with our trip, but I doubt that was it.) and drew myself a bath. I hadn't taken a bath in a very, very long time (No jokes! I shower daily.) I was completely relaxed. I then watched a little TV and went to bed with the window cracked...and SLEPT in the most comfortable bed ever.

To be continued...


Craziness in Ann Arbor...

So I ended up getting a last-minute free ticket Saturday night to see the Jack DeJohnette Latin Project at Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor. Holy crap! It was a great show! Very intense, very insane, very experimental, and very cool. Parts of it seemed like Ornette Coleman on acid. Jack DeJohnette is a jazz drummer who has played with the likes of John Coltraine, Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Sonny Rollins, Ornette Coleman, Herbie Hancock, and Keith Jarrett. This group is only doing a tour of 6 cities and they are not recording together so I feel very honored to have been able to see them.
The lineup is as follows...

Jack DeJohnette-Drums
Don Byron-Clarinet
Giovanni Hidalgo-Congas
Luisita Quintero-Timbales
Edsel Gomez-Piano
Jerome Harris-Bass

Giovanni Hidalgo was the highlight of the show. His conga skills are insane! Mr. Quintero did an amazing job as well. I'm very glad I got to see these guys together as it will probably never happen again.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Another stolen stolen survey...

48 questions for you to love...

1. Your name spelled backwards:

2. Where were your parents born?
Detroit, MI and Schaffhausen, Switzerland

3. What is the last thing you downloaded onto your computer?
Nothing, really.

4. What's your favorite restaurant?
Cuisine (Detroit), Blackbird (Chicago), Bridgewater Mill (Adelaide Hills, Australia)

5. Last time you swam in a pool?
Skinny-dipping at the Country Club pool about 7 years ago.

6. Have you ever been in a school play?
Yes, 4 times.

7. How many kids do you want?

8. Type of music do you dislike most?
Smooth jazz, country, gangsta rap

9. Are you registered to vote?
Sho' nuff.

10. Do you have cable?

11. Have you ever ridden on a moped?

12. Ever prank call anybody?

13. Ever get a parking ticket?
Once in Detroit while I was tasting some wines with a writer friend and a winemaker at the Detroit News building. 10 minutes over.

14. Would you go bungee jumping or sky diving?
Sky diving.

15. Farthest place you ever traveled?

16. Do you have a garden?
Yes, although techinically it's the landlord's and they do all the work.

17. What's your favorite comic strip?
Peanuts (wholesome), Rehabilitating Mr. Wiggles (sick and wrong)

18. Do you really know all the words to the national anthem?

19. Bath or Shower, morning or night?
Shower every morning

20. Best movie you've seen in the past month?
Sideways (the only movie I've seen this month), Stalag 17 (on DVD, one of my faves)

21. Favorite pizza toppings?
Goat cheese, roasted red peppers, roasted garlic, asparagus, wild mushrooms, artichoke hearts, fresh roma tomatoes (fancy)
bacon, mushrooms, onion (normal)

22. Chips or popcorn?
Tortilla chips

23. What color lipstick do you usually wear?
Wouldn't you like to know?

24. Have you ever smoked peanut shells?
No, but thanks for the idea.

25. Have you ever been in a beauty pageant?

26. Orange Juice or apple?

27. Favorite type of chocolate bar?
Valrhona 71% Dark

27. When was the last time you voted at the polls?
November, 2004

28. Last time you ate a homegrown tomato?
Last summer from the garden.

29. Have you ever won a trophy?
No, not a trophy. Awards, certificates, scholarships, trips...yes.

30. Are you a good cook?
Pretty damn good if I may say so myself.

31. Do you know how to pump your own gas?
Yeah, I live in Michigan.

32. Ever order an item from an infomercial?
I ordered some cookware years ago. Good stuff. Still use it.

33. Sprite or 7-up?
Doesn't make a difference to me.

34. Have you ever had to wear a uniform to work?
Several restaurant uniforms and currently (a burgundy polo shirt)

35. Last thing you bought at a pharmacy?

36. Ever throw up in public?
Fifth grade on my desk. I had the flu or something.

37. Would you prefer being a millionaire or to find true love?
Wow! As nice as it would be to be loaded I'd rather find true love.

38. Do you believe in love at first sight?

39. Ever call a 1-900 number?

40. Can exes be friends?

41. Who was the last person you visited in a hospital?
My coworker and friend Don after he had his knee replaced.

42. Did you have a lot of hair when you were a baby?

43. What message is on your answering machine?
No message right now, just Caller ID.

44. What is in your backpack?
Nothing, and it's in the closet.

45. Favorite thing to do before bedtime?
Watch TV

46. What is one thing you are grateful for today?
Our store-manager is out of town.

47. What is the first concert you ever went to?
Cyndi Lauper (with Concrete Blonde) in the spring of 1987 in Portland, Oregon.

I'd be this famous 90's movie character...if I were a woman.

I took this quiz and apparently it's for ladies, but I filled it out anyway...

You are Lelaina from "Reality Bites"
You are Lelaina from "Reality Bites"
Take Which 90's movie character are you? today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.

You're in a transitional period right now in your
life. You're trying to figure out who you are and
where you're heading. It's scary, but at the same time you're able to enjoy life while you struggle.
You're down-to-earth and funny. People describe you as "Cool" and enjoy your company.
You'll figure out the meaning of life in time. Just take it all in stride, day by day.

Hmmm...maybe I shouldn't have filled out that quiz as Winona Ryder is one of my fave long-standing celebrity crushes. Time for a little self-love if you know what I mean...


Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Who peed in the gene pool?

First of all...I'm getting over my cold. Thanks for asking. The congestion has mostly cleared and my nose is contributing to my ability to breathe again. It's nice not to be a "mouth-breather" any more. Luckily I was only mistaken for an extra from Deliverance a few times. I played some banjo licks and they realized that I was indeed sick and not trying to "make a baby with my sister". Ha! The jokes on them. I don't have a sister. How do "only child" redneck white-trash hillbillies procreate anyway (assuming that their mothers have passed their child-bearing years)? Try as they may with the family pet, but offspring are not a possibility. Hopefully. It's funny how both the highest-tier members of society and the dregs have something in common...inbreeding. Yup. It's getting hard to tell the difference between the "blue-bloods" and the yokels. Luckily the gap in social graces is usually fairly wide. That and the fact that most of the Hamptons crowd do not wear LA Gear shoes. I do hear, however, that Minolo Blahnik and Ferragamo are becoming all the rage in Mud Lick. Pretty soon the eyes of the inbred population will be so close together that they'll become cyclops.

Speaking of inbreeding...
Did you hear that Prince Charles is going to marry Camilla?

Speaking of inbreeding...
Have you seen the list of celebrities that are going to testify in the Michael Jackson trial?

Sorry. I didn't intend to go off on an inbreeding tangent. Stream of consciousness, I guess.

I just looked out the front window (1:30AM-ish) and it's snowing like the bejeezus. Holy crap! It's sticking. I thought that it would be too warm and wet to stick. By the time you read this it'll be too late. I am now, however, armed with this knowledge and know to get up 5 minutes earlier. Ha ha! This may be one of the last chances I have this season to write my name in the snow. Try printing's a bitch.

Random poll-
Which movie is worse? Ishtar or Joe Verses the Volcano? (Although I hear the new Tara Reid/Christian Slater film Alone In the Dark may be a candidate soon.) took long enough.
After 14 years of eligibility I've finally been summoned for Jury Selection. I'm surprised it took this long. I know a 24 year old who's already been called 3 times. I mail back every jury survey immediately. Call me crazy, but I've been wanting to be on jury duty for a long time. Everyone I know bitches about it, but I feel that it's my civic duty and I look forward to it. I understand that my chances are fairly slim of being selected (especially if they read some of the stuff I've posted on this blog). Hopefully they don't found out about the kazoo/Doberman/tub of Vaseline/Manhattan Clam Chowder/voices in my head/left-handed scissors/canned beets/aluminum foil hat/clown-spanking in the Rouge River-incident either. Just kidding. It was the Snake River. Anyhoo...I've got to report to the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice downtown (Detroit) on March 7 at 7:45AM. 7:45AM?!? WTF?!? I know that Justice is blind, but can't it sleep-in too? I'll get a whopping $25.00 for reporting on the first day and get 10 cents per mile. If I'm selected for a jury I'll get $40.00 for each additional day. That should be about enough to pay for parking (which is not reimbursed). Frank Murphy is a criminal court. Hopefully I'll be selected and get a juicy case. I'm salaried and I'd be getting out of work...I hope it's the "Case of the Century". That and the extra cash. Maybe I'll rewatch Twelve Angry Men (the original) to get in the mood. Chances are I'll sit around all day and not get selected, but I can always keep my fingers crossed.

I worked out tonight for about 20 minutes on my stationary recumbant bike. Holy crap! I'll try it again tomorrow, but I've got to figure out how to get a TV hooked up to the cable in the basement and adjust the light for better reading. I need something to occupy my mind while my legs are spinning otherwise I'll be insanely bored.

Time to go to bed...I've got to get up 5 minutes early on account of the snow.


Sunday, February 13, 2005

Happy friggin' Valentine's Day!

Not much going on with me, but a few things I'd like to mention...

I've got another damn cold. I can't breathe and my head is going to explode. Oh joy! (At least I didn't get the flu like everyone at the restaurant.)

Horatio Sanz is NOT funny. Horatio Sanz may be the candidate for the least funny Saturday Night Live cast member of all time. He flubs his lines all the time and always starts cracking up. Dude, cut down on the weed and shut up. At least you portray Kim Jong Il well in the visual sense. Hey Lorne, if you're looking for the token fat caucasian-ish white guy, look no further. At least his overrated partner in line-flubbing, Jimmy Fallon, is gone. Kudos to the news duo of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. It's the best SNL Weekend Update since Norm McDonald.

I'm listening to the new Marianne Faithfull right now. It's really, really good. Awesome actually. The music is written by PJ Harvey, Nick Cave, Damon Albarn, and John Brion. The lyrics are penned by Ms. Faithfull. Members of the Bad Seeds provide much of the backing band. Right now I think my favorite track is the Nick Cave written "There Is a Ghost". Great album! Go to Glen's and buy it now!

We've recently switched over from Comcast cable to WOW in our household. There's not much difference, but now we get two PBS stations. We used to get Detroit, obviously, but now we also get the Flint PBS station. This is pretty cool because they buy some subtley different programming. Much of it is the same and at the same time, but there are a few differences of note. Austin City Limits, for example, airs earlier on the Flint station on Saturdays. This is always a great show. You'll catch a lot of amazing acts that you won't find elsewhere. Damien Rice and Patty Griffin were both on this weekend. Good stuff. I caught a little bit of The Jack Benny Show on the Detroit station this Saturday with special guest Liberace. Hilarious! I haven't seen or heard any Jack Benny in a while. Liberace was just as "flamboyant" in his younger days and actually pretty funny. My favorite show on PBS and one of my favorite shows on TV is a travel show called Globe Trekker. It airs at 10:00PM on Flint and 2:00AM-ish on Detroit on Saturdays. Globe Trekker goes to some of the most remote and less touristy places. Seeing as my chances of going to Iran, Vietnam, Nepal, Finland, or Argentina are fairly slim I'll enjoy the trip on my couch. My favorite episodes are led by Ian Wright. He's a funny, smart, charming young Brit who reminds me a lot of superstar chef Jamie Oliver. I'm glued to every episode. It's really fascinating stuff. Thank goodness for PBS.

I FINALLY saw Sideways today. I've been getting a lot of comments from customers regarding the film...
"Why haven't you seen it yet?"
"You should see it. You could learn a lot about wine."
"You still haven't seen Sideways?"
"It should be required viewing. Your boss should take the whole staff to see it."
"Do you sell pinot noir? They love it in the movie. I think I'll try one. Do you have one for 5 bucks?"
Well...I finally saw it and have to admit that I liked it. I didn't love it, but I liked it. The movie really isn't about wine, but Santa Barbara wine country makes for an interesting setting. The plot is much deeper and delves into mid-life crisis, depression, adultery, and such. But the wine/winery scenes provide good comic relief. I'm a wine geek and laughed at a lot of the wine-speak. Paul Giamatti's character is a little too wine "snobbish" for my taste, but the information presented was surprisingly accurate. The line about merlot cracked my ass up (as a serial merlot-hater). The performances by Mr. Giamatti, Virginia Madsen, Thomas Haden Church, and Sandra Oh were "just right". This is a very good film, but I don't know if I'd find it Oscar-worthy in any category except for Screenplay. If I had a bottle of 1961 Cheval Blanc I'd probably drink it with a burger and onion rings too.

Happy friggin' Valentine's Day!
I hate Valentine's Day! It may only be because I never seem to have anyone to share it with. Yeah, I'm bitter. I haven't gotten a Valentine (other than from dear old mom) since elementary school. You know...when you had a decorative "mailbox" covered with pink, purple, and red hearts on your desk and it was mandatory for all the students in your class to give you one. I miss those days. Even mandatory cards are nicer than none...I guess. I remember that I'd put extra shitty/chalky candies in the envelopes of the girls that I had a crush on. Yeah...I'm talking about you, Jenny Norman, from the fifth grade. ;) I did receive a card in the third grade that had a little something extra to it. I think she wrote "I like you." with lots of hearts on it. Turns out that I was oblivious to the obvious back then too. Michelle was pretty and best friends with Carla, the most popular girl in the class. I had my eyes on Carla as did everyone else. Damn I was a fool. Hey, Michelle! Still wanna hook up? I was actually sort of a junior-player back in those days with my uber-blonde Dutch Boy hair cut, freckles, and missing teeth. One of my first "girlfriends", Sharon, and I both had the same matching Muppet Show lunchbox. Fate? We kind of broke up when she was held back a year (Ouch!) and then moved. I'm assuming that she's made it pass the third grade by now. Good luck to her wherever she is. Thanks for making me feel special, anyhow. My "player" days have deteriorated. Should I go back to the "Dutch Boy"?

I'd like to wish everyone a Happy Valentine's Day. This especially goes out to those who are not dating or married. Those of us who are still single deserve a hug. Valentine's Day is not marketed to those of us lonely folks. Hey Hallmark! Eat a crap sandwich! I hope that everyone gets some sort of positive recognition this Valentine's Day. Be nice and respectful to single people. They deserve it. I hope that your shoebox Valentine's "mailbox" is full and has extra candy in it. Now excuse me as I eat dinner by myself in front of the TV and cry myself to sleep...

Today's wine recommendation- Bonny Doon Framboise $12.99/375ml
This is not your traditional wine. This awesome dessert wine is actually made from neutral spirits infused with raspberries. It's rich and sweet and true to the fruit. It's so rich with raspberry flavor that you'll want to spit out the seeds. This stuff is unbelievably decadent and even non wine drinkers would love it. It's decadent and hedonistic. Great with Valentine's chocolates, on pancakes, on ice cream, or on your lover. Give a bottle to your significant other and you're sure to get a little something-something if you know what I mean...

Until the next bottle...

Thursday, February 10, 2005

I'm from planet...

You Are From Mercury

You are talkative, clever, and knowledgeable - and it shows.
You probably never leave home without your cell phone!
You're witty, expressive, and aware of everything going on around you.
You love learning, playing, and taking in all of what life has to offer.
Be careful not to talk your friends' ears off, and temper your need to know everything.

If I were an element I'd apparently be...

Your Element Is Air

You dislike conflict, and you've been able to rise above the angst of the world.
And when things don't go your way, you know they'll blow over quickly.

Easygoing, you tend to find joy from the simple things in life.
You roll with the punches, and as a result, your life is light and cheerful.

You find it easy to adapt to most situations, and you're an open person.
With you, what you see is what you get... and people love that!

If I were a puppy I'd be a...

You Are a Dachshund Puppy

Loyal and playful - with a good hunting instinct.
You sometimes go a little crazy and need to chase down a rabbit or two.

Apparently my name means...

J is for Joyous
A is for Amorous
S is for Silky
O is for Outgoing
N is for Nutty

Apparently I have this kind of intelligence...

Your Dominant Intelligence is Linguistic Intelligence

You are excellent with words and language. You explain yourself well.
An elegant speaker, you can converse well with anyone on the fly.
You are also good at remembering information and convicing someone of your point of view.
A master of creative phrasing and unique words, you enjoy expanding your vocabulary.

You would make a fantastic poet, journalist, writer, teacher, lawyer, politician, or translator.

Apparently I'm this personality type...

You Have A Type B+ Personality


You're a pro at going with the flow
You love to kick back and take in everything life has to offer
A total joy to be around, people crave your stability.

While you're totally laid back, you can have bouts of hyperactivity.
Get into a project you love, and you won't stop until it's done
You're passionate - just selective about your passions

Apparently I act this age...

You Are 24 Years Old


Under 12: You are a kid at heart. You still have an optimistic life view - and you look at the world with awe.

13-19: You are a teenager at heart. You question authority and are still trying to find your place in this world.

20-29: You are a twentysomething at heart. You feel excited about what's to come... love, work, and new experiences.

30-39: You are a thirtysomething at heart. You've had a taste of success and true love, but you want more!

40+: You are a mature adult. You've been through most of the ups and downs of life already. Now you get to sit back and relax.

Apparently I am this gay childhood icon...

You Are the Very Gay Winnie the Pooh!

Come on, he doesn't wear pants!
And he's a little too obsessed with Christopher Robin

Apparently I'm more romantic than 80% of the population...

You Are A Romantic

You are more romantic than 80% of the population.

You life your life like a fairy tale... or at least you try to.
Living for magical moments, you believe there's only one true love for you.
Love is the most important thing in your life, and you don't take it for granted.
Your perfect match loves to be in love as much as you do!

Apparently I belong in this year...

You Belong in 1968


If you scored...

1950 - 1959: You're fun loving, romantic, and more than a little innocent. See you at the drive in!

1960 - 1969: You are a free spirit with a huge heart. Love, peace, and happiness rule - oh, and drugs too.

1970 - 1979: Bold and brash, you take life by the horns. Whether you're partying or protesting, you give it your all!

1980 - 1989: Wild, over the top, and just a little bit cheesy. You're colorful at night - and successful during the day.

1990 - 1999: With you anything goes! You're grunge one day, ghetto fabulous the next. It's all good!

Apparently I was this hit song in 2004...

Are You Gonna Be My Girl by Jet

"So 1, 2, 3, take my hand and come with me
Because you look so fine
And i really wanna make you mine"

You impressed almost everyone in 2004 - and surprised yourself.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Bitchslapping a generation...

So there's this new show on MTV called My Super Sweet Sixteen that makes me hate this generation of kids even more. Each episode focuses on one 15 year old and their preparations for their "Sweet Sixteen" party. First of all, these kids are way to f'in rich. Second of all, they're deservant of the "Bitchslap Heard 'Round the World". I've only seen two so far, but both of the girls exhibited such general whinyness, bitchiness, selfishness, and stupidity that I about kvetched on myself. The first episode was focused on a girl who wasn't entirely popular, but had an ego that would eclipse Donald Trump. Her mom was a drunk and her dad was way late so at least there was some drama. She got a brand new Mustang convertible for her birthday. The second girl was so obnoxious, stuck-up, bitchy, whiny, spoiled, and generally icky that I got up and slapped the TV. I've never hit anyone, especially a woman, but I would go out of my way to publicly slap this girl (a minor) and risk the jail time. Her parents spent more on her "Sweet Sixteen" party than most people spend on elaborate weddings. She saw a Land Rover that she liked and commented on it until she found out that it was used and made a face of disgust. Her dress was around $10,000 or something stupid. Stupider yet was her entrance to the party. She was carried into the ballroom on a bed supported by four shirtless men. Ewww... she's sixteen. She went insane when she found out that her mom canceled her credit card. I mean absolutely apeshit! She cried and pouted because she thought that her party may be ruined. What a bitch. Then she got her birthday present...a brand new Land Rover. Her parents said it was hers on the condition that she treated them with respect. She got in the Land Rover, squelched the tires, and sped away. Kids these days...I tell ya. Next week's episode features a "guy" and his "Sweet Sixteen" party.

I didn't have a "Sweet Sixteen" party. In fact, I never had a birthday party. Never even went to Chuck E. Cheese. My first car was a 1980 Plymouth Volare..."Premiere Edition". Many of you know the car of which I speak. I've heard of "Sweet Sixteen" parties, but never on such a disgusting scale. I could imagine it in the grand Southern cotillion tradition of a young woman being formally introduced to society, but not at a rental hall in Arizona. Kids today...they make we want to puke. Respect your elders, learn to be polite, don't be ignorant, don't whine, don't pout, don't be selfish, don't act superior, treat your peers with respect, and don't act like spoiled little princesses/princes. Shut up and behave! As we say in the restaurant business, "I'd like a side of 'Shut the Fuck Up!'"

On another note...our new computer system at work is still a work in progress. It's installed, but we're encountering lots of bugs in the system. Not bugs really...more like giant hissing Madagascar cockroaches or even something of a more Kafka-esque scale. The new system is supposed to simplify, but in it's infancy stages it's actually creating triple-work for me. Yeah...what a hoot.

Oh yeah, check out this really cool baby name wizard that I stole from Julie. It will tell you what baby names were most popular in the twentieth century. Very cool.


Tuesday, February 08, 2005

And "Comic Book Guy's" name is...

...Jeff Albertson.

Hmmmm...I don't seem to have any inspiration today. I'll just write about some rather random stuff.

So yesterday (Sunday) we had our Andiamo Christmas Party. Yeah, that's right...Christmas. The holiday party is usually a week or two after Christmas, but it was delayed quite a bit this year (it's impossible to have employee Christmas parties during the holiday season when you're in the service industry). This year's party also happened to fall on Superbowl Sunday. Ouch. Usually the party is pretty insane, but I'm afraid the Superbowl took a toll on this year's attendance. Don't get me wrong, there were still about 300 people. The usual draw is usually at least 600 or so. I think that there are now 9 locations and this is a party for everyone so it's quite a mix. If you know anything about restaurant workers it's that there the biggest drinkers and partiers on the planet. Imagine hundreds of them with an open bar. Shitty free wine and draft beer are not the greatest draw, but it's still free. The party was pretty lame in actuality. They took a vote of who wanted to watch the game on a GIANT screen with the sound on, or to watch the game but have the DJ playing music. The sports fans won. Damn. The DJ played during some commercials and half-time. I really didn't give a crap about the game, but I was hoping to catch some of the commercials. The party also usually starts at 6:00PM, but it started at 4:00PM this year. 4:00PM? WTF? I guess they were trying to clear us out early this year. It worked. Most of the people fled after the last raffle drawing during half-time (including myself). Also because the closed the bar at half-time. WTF?!?!? Luckily one of my amazing coworkers was thoughtful enough to bring a fifth of Jagermeister. It was gone in 5 minutes. The Grand Prize in the raffle was an all expenses paid trip to Vegas. My ticket # was 466225. The winning ticket # was 466223. Damn! Last year I took almost two rolls worth of pictures. Dirty, racy, blackmailing pictures. This year I had to struggle to find 10 things to take pictures of. It'll probably be a while before I get the film developed as I still have 14 more exposures. Lame, lame, lame. Next year's party better not fall on Superbowl Sunday.

I got home from the party before the Superbowl ended and I was able to watch The Simpsons and the new American Dad. They finally released the name of "Comic Book Guy" after all these years...Jeff Albertson. I'll still call him "Comic Book Guy". American Dad was no Family Guy, but it did have a few good laughs (mostly aimed at the current administration and red-staters).

I was flipping through channels and caught something on E that my knitting friends would want to know about. I'm sure they already know about Knitty Gritty on the DIY Network. It's a show about knitting. I don't get DIY, so I guess I'm screwed. Enjoy it ladies! You know who I'm talking about.

I just got the new (March) Food and Wine magazine today and boy was that exciting! Turns out that two chefs that I've recently mentioned in my blog are both featured with full articles. Outstanding. There's a great article on Grant Achatz and his new restaurant Alinea in Chicago. It's not even open yet, but it's already being touted as America's best new restaurant. Rightfully so with his mind-blowing talent. The guy is crazy talented and unbelievably creative and his food has all the subtlety of Tom Arnold on cocaine.

There's also an article on Chef Bill Granger from Australia. He's the owner of Bill's Cafe in Sydney where I had the world's greatest scrambled eggs. There's a neat article and it goes on to say how he could become a big influence on this country's cuisine. I hope so. He's released his first American cookbook. I must get it forthwith. His previous cookbooks are not available in the U.S. I ordered Bill's Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner from (special order) and it took about 7 or 8 months, but it was worth the wait. I should have bought it at the restaurant while I was there. Best of luck to both of these amazingly talented chefs.

Random poll- Who would win in a prison fight? Martha Stewart or Michael Jackson?
(Keep in mind that Michael's got the moves, but Martha's got the Tiffany shiv and matching shiv cozy. But who's got Michael's nose?) Please comment to cast your vote.

Today's wine recommendation- 2002 Foris Rogue Valley Pinot Gris $15.99
This awesome white from southern Oregon is quite a steal. The winery is located in Cave Junction (not far from Grant's Pass and Medford). I used to go camping and white-water rafting in the area when I lived in Oregon. It's a much drier and warmer region than the Willamette Valley in the north. Although it comes from warmer environs, it still possesses the qualities of a fine Willamette Valley or Alsatian Pinot Gris. It has delightful notes of pear, melon, citrus, and wet stone on the nose and clean and focused notes of pear, lemon, honeydew, and mineral on the palate. Great stuff! Try with potato and horseradish encrusted salmon, choucroute garni, or roast turkey.

Until the next bottle...

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Yet another survey: Redux...

1. What time did you get up today? 8:30AM

2. If you could eat lunch with one person, who would it be? Jacques Pepin

3. Gold or silver? Silver

4. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? Alfie (not the original)

5. What is/are your favorite TV show(s)? M*A*S*H, The Muppet Show, Twin Peaks, X-Files, Battlestar Galactica, The Simpsons, The Kids in the Hall, Monty Python's Flying Circus, Chef

6. Who would you hate to be stuck in a room with? Bill O'Reilly

7. Who inspires you? Nelson Mandela, cancer survivors, organ donors, activists...

8. What is your middle name? Matthew

9. Favorite ice cream? Butter pecan, homeade strawberry, Ben and Jerry's Monkey Wrench

10. Butter or Plain popcorn? Plain

11. Favorite color? Black (technically not a color)

12. Favorite sandwich? Pan Bagnat, the perfect Reuben, or a grilled cheese made with crusty sourdough and Gruyer or Emmentaler

13. What characteristics do you despise? Ignorance, idiocy, arrogance/snobishness, ego, selfishness, machismo, self-righteousness, lying, neo-Patriotism, redneckism, white-trashism, Red State-ism...

14. Favorite flower? iris and any form of lily

15. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation where would you go? Switzerland or Australia

16. What color is your bathroom? white with beige trim

17. Where would you like to retire? Melbourne, Australia

18. Favorite day of the week? Sunday (my only day off)

19. What did you do for your last birthday? worked

20. Where were you born? Livonia, MI

21. Favorite sport to watch? bicycle racing, figure skating, or downhill skiing

24. What fabric detergent do you use? Tide if I have money in my pocket or Purex if I don't

25. Coke or Pepsi? Coke

26. Morning person or Night Owl? Night Owl

27. Who sent this to you? I stole it from Kathleen

28. What are you reading? I'm between books right now, but several magazines

29. Favorite movie? Once Were Warriors

30. George Clooney or Brad Pitt? Kate Winslet

31. Favorite Food? All of them, but anything involving lamb, foie gras, white truffles, diver scallops, Valrhona 71% Chocolate, pork belly, Yellowfin otoro tuna, or sushi may put me over the top.

32. Favorite clothing store? Target

33. Favorite adult beverage? Australian Shiraz

34. Favorite art to buy: Post-impressionist or contemporary pop if I could afford it.

Australia: Day Two...

...and the saga continues.

Wednesday, October 8, 2003

Although I hadn't slept in a while, I still had trouble sleeping during my first night in Australia. I think I got a tiny little bit of sleep, but just a skinch. I have sleep issues as it is, but if you add adrenaline to the scenario it's a lost cause. I was thoroughly enjoying my room at the Holiday Inn in The Rocks district of Old Sydney and my bed was quite comforting (especially after the sardine treatment on the world's longest continuous flight). As I didn't sleep very well I got up early, showered, and packed so that I'd be ready to leave at the drop of a hat. I was supposed to meet everybody in the hotel lobby at 8:00AM and I was out the hotel doors around 6:45 AM (and feeling pretty good considering the lack of sleep and alcohol consumption). I took a right on George Street until I stumbled upon a little cafe where I had to try one of the Australian brekkie (breakfast) classics known as "Meat Pie". Mmmm...artery clogging goodness. I washed it down with a couple of "Short Blacks" (espressos) and a small bottle of milk. Damn fine milk...similar to Swiss milk. I like this country. I noticed on the wall behind the food display-case a couple of pictures of Bill Clinton from two separate visits. Pretty cool. I could see why he had a heart attack after trying such brekkie faves as meat pie, pasty, sausage roll, or eggs with rasher bacon.

I sauntered out upon George Street into the glorious sun of the Sydney morning and wandered down to Circular Quauy to get a view another glorious view of the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. Both of these structures are truly magnificent to behold. Pictures really don't do either of them justice. The way the light shines in the sky and the way it reflects of the harbour really accentuates these masterpieces of architecture. The bridge, in actuality, looks pretty simple, but it really has an haunting presence. It's really a marvel of early twentieth century architecture. They offer "Bridge Climbs", which are pretty damn cool if you're not afraid to do it. You can strap in and climb on top of the entire bridge. We didn't have an opportunity to do it as it's usually booked some time in advance. I guess there's always next time. The Opera House is even more astonishing. You've all seen it in pictures, but you've really got to see it in person. It's a wonder of the modern world that words really can't describe. I took a few more pictures and lazily made my way back to the hotel to meet the gang. We met at the hotel at 8:00AM and took some taxis to the Darlinghurst district of Sydney. Darlinghurst is a cool, kind of boho, district (somewhat similar to the East Village but more sparse).

We got out at 433 Liverpool Street to enjoy the best breakfast I've ever had. We arrived at Bill's Cafe some time around 8:30AM. Bill's Cafe has a reputation as one of the best breakfast joints in the world. The New York Times has declared that Bill's serves the finest scrambled eggs on the planet. They're right. The dining room is small, simple, and contemporary with a giant communal table in the middle of the room. Communal tables are lots of fun and I think it would be a neat trend in the U.S. We met a representative from Pipers Brook for breakfast. Pipers Brook is a moderately small sparkling wine producer in Tasmania. We tasted a few sparkling wines (the ONLY way to start the morning) and dove into the breakfast menu which is written on a large chalkboard. Everything on the menu looked amazing, but I had to try the infamous scrambled eggs. I ordered them with toast and of gravlax (cured salmon). I also ordered a side of toasted coconut bread because it sounded so good and a "Long Black" (black coffee). I know that scrambled eggs are pretty simple, but these were otherworldly. They were so rich and insanely creamy that I wanted to weep. The color was a deep yellow. Absolute heaven! The gravlax and the coconut toast were equally sublime, but the eggs spoke to me. I've had a minor obsession with scrambled eggs since. One of the secrets is organic free-range eggs and lots of cream. Mmmmmmm...cream. I'd like to imagine Samuel L. Jackson's character "Jules" in Pulp Fiction eating these eggs. He'd say something like, "Damn! These are some good motherf'in eggs! I mean these eggs are some tasty-ass shit! What?!? You think I'm kiddin'?!? Why would I lie about motherf'in eggs this good? Damn! These are the best motherf'in eggs I've ever had!". Anyway, he'd say something like that. Some other items on their breakfast menu include Sweetcorn Fritters with Roast Tomato and Bacon, Ricotta Hotcakes with Honeycomb Butter, Crumpets with Blackberry Butter, Potato and Feta Pancakes, and Fresh Bircher Muesli with Stone Fruit. If you're ever in Sydney you MUST go to Bill's Cafe and experience the FRESHEST, best breakfast you'll ever have. Bill Granger has become a celebrity chef in Australia and has several cookbooks and I think three restaurants. His food epitomizes the theory that FRESH and SIMPLE is best.

We had some spare time between breakfast and the time that we'd be leaving the hotel (12:30PM). I walked around Sydney for a while enjoying all the sights and saw the only Aborigine I'd see on the trip. He was wearing a designer business suit and was hustling to or from work. I was enjoying every aspect of the highrise splendor of this beautiful metropolitan city. It's really gorgeous. The city-planners should be proud. I wandered down to Circular Quauy one last time and took my last pictures from my favorite spot. It was a stunningly beautiful day. It was sunny as can be and the air was still slightly crisp. Pure bliss. I walked back to George Street and found a small shop and bought a gross of postcards and stamps then headed back to the hotel. I tried to send an e-mail to everyone from the free hotel lobby computer. It was really slow, but I finally got the message to send. That was cool. I went to my room and started to fill out the postcards until I realized that I could do it on the hotel roof. I went to the top floor of the hotel where I ran into Shayn and his girlfriend coming down. He offereed me a taste of his E&E Sparkling Shiraz that he found at a local wine store. Yum. Thanks, Shayn! I made it to the roof and discovered that I was the only person there. I had the whole roof and the pool to myself. I didn't use the pool, but I found a table with a GORGEOUS view of the harbor. I could see the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, the ferry traffic, the downtown, and Old Sydney from my vantage point. This was the perfect place to fill out postcards. The sun was out and it was getting warm (pushing the 80's I think) and I had an amazing view. I had the perfect inspiration to write my postcards. I wrote out a ton (sorry if you didn't get one). I promised cards to several people, plus the obligation of family and friends. I forgot about a phenomonon in Australia. There's a gaping hole in the ozone layer. I got horrible sunburn on the back of my neck and on my arms. This would plague me for the rest of trip. Whoops! I've never been able to tan in my life, but I have blistered before (luckily not this time).

I managed to finish about 20 postcards and get them in the post box at the hotel. We met in the lobby at 12:30PM then boarded a bus that would take us to our lunch destination. We met a representative of Coopers (beer) at Deco for a fabulous light lunch spread (hommous, grilled shrimp, and such) and a Coopers beer tasting. All I have to say is that Coopers makes the best beers in Australia. Period. They're available here in the states and we sell them in the store in case anyone is interested. The rep gave us each a Coopers baseball cap. Thanks. I'm not a hat kinda guy, but this is the only baseball hat I'll ever wear. After the tasting we left Deco and boarded a bus headed to the Sydney train station. After a few glasses of sparkling wine in the early morning and some beer chasers it was time to leave the beautiful city of Sydney.

We arrived at the train station to board the Indian Pacific headed for Adelaide. The Indian Pacific is a famous railroad that is called such because it stretches from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean. Their is a stretch between Adelaide and Perth that is the longest straight rail stretch in the world. Our trip from Sydney to Adelaide would be 1691km. Damn. We were escorted to our train car by our fabulous attendant Nikki and shown how to use our facilities and such. We were booked in a Golden Kangaroo Service car. This means that we each had individual sleeper cabins and full access to the dining car and the lounge car. Our group also had the ultra super cool conference car. We had a whole train car to ourselves which included a large conference table, couches, a TV and DVD player (which we never used) a counter top and kitchenette with sink. Pretty nice. We were met on the train by some of Australia's finest people in the wine business. I was really pleased to see Kerri Thompson of Leasingham Winery in the Clare Valley. I had had lunch with Kerri once in Michigan and she's an absolute joy (not to mention she's the world's best looking winemaker). We also met the amazingly talented Louisa Rose of Yalumba, winemaker Sue Mickan, Nick from Orlando/Seppelt, Nick Withers from Pacific Wine Partners, and a wine-writer from Queensland (I think his name is Peter). We settled into the conference car for the long haul and sat ourselves down at the giant conference table. All of our guests would take turns heading mini-seminars on regions, varietals, and wine styles.

There are special paper placemats made for "sit-down" wine tastings. The placemats have circles on them and are numbered or lettered. Wine glasses are placed on the circles and are differentiated by the numbers or letters. Our placemats were full and we were ready to go. Oh shit! We're on a train. The glasses were gently shaking and sliding into each other and then outward. The sound of rattling glasses became something that we grew accustomed to. Every few minutes someone would grab their glasses and push them back into position. It was a lot of fun. The seminars were great and very informative, but we'd often stop just to look at the scenery. The further we got away from Sydney the more desolate it got. Any houses in the outer perimeter would cling closely to the tracks. We'd pass cricket fields and small towns. The fields were green and lush with occasional blinding patches of yellow (some sort of grass) and occasional swatches of purple flowers bursting out of the sparse soil that clings to tracks. The soil would subtley get a deeper orange/reddish color the further we ventured. We passed a sheep shearing station and kilometers of nothingness. We were passing through the Blue Mountains and some of the most amazing sights I'd ever encountered. We passed through a canyon-like area that was nothing but surreal. Wow. As it was getting darker there was nothing to see. The seminars continued and we continued to "adjust" our glassware. Dinner time arrive and we made our way to the dining room car. Dinner on the train was surprisingly good. I had a great fresh salad followed by a loin of lamb (if my memories serves me right) and a chocolate torte of sorts. I don't exactly remember, but it was all quite good. My chocolate torte was delicious, but I should have opted for the national dessert of "Pavlova". It's a meringue topped with fruit. After dinner we retired the to lounge car to listen to the history of the railroad. The gentleman giving the lesson is essentially in charge of the train operations and he REALLY loves his job. We were each handed a disgusting looking concoction and asked to drink it. There was absolutely nothing wrong with it, but we (including the wine-makers) were all wine snobs. That handed us a glass of sparkling wine that had Blue Curacao added to it. Turns out the blue color is to symbolize the joining of the two oceans. Oh...clever. I politely drank it and struck up a conversation with a lovely older Australian couple. Most of the people in Gold Kangaroo Service were older. There were a bunch of schmucks behind us that had to spend the whole trip in seats. Ouch! The AusWAT group headed back to the conference car for the last seminar of the day. We had a seminar on Australian dessert wines. I saw the color of one of the wines and I got excited. I looked in the book and saw that one of the wines being poured was Chambers Rare Tokay. Chambers Rare Tokay may be the best wine I've ever tried. I was lucky enough to try it two times previously at a customer/friend's house. It sells for about $300.00 for a half bottle now, if you can get it. No one else in my group had tasted it before. It was fun to watch their faces. It is the nectar of the gods with it's notes of toffee, coffee, caramel, marmalade, blackstrap molasses, date, fig, nuts, nutmeg, and infinite other flavors. The finish is insanely long and wholly soul-satisfying. Damn that's good shit! We sat around for a while and had a few beers and I decided to retire for the evening. I made my way to my berth and opened the door to find that my "bed" had been lowered. The cabin is fine during the day with plenty of space for one person. It's a different story at night. The bed takes up the whole berth. Open the door and there it is. I managed to plop myself onto the "bed" and figured that it would be one more night without sleep. I'm essentially a "side-sleeper". The train was rocking so much that I was swaying crazily. I can't fall asleep on my back. It was going to be a long night. I'd catch the occasional light, train station, mining operation, or mill, but it was mostly just "dark".

Two days in Australia and I haven't seen a kangaroo yet.

To be continued...


A couple words on the Democratic Response to President Bush's State of the Union speech...

"Right on!"

A couple words on President Bush's State of the Union Speech...

"Blow Me!"

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Yet another survey...

1: Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 18, find line 4. Write down what it says:
Line 4 reads: " trotting out that film of you as a teenager shaking JFK's..."

2: Stretch your left arm out as far as you can. What do you touch first?:
The wall to our foyer.

3: What is the last thing you watched on TV?:
Family Guy is currently on behind me.

4: WITHOUT LOOKING, guess what the time is:

5: Now look at the clock, what is the actual time?:

6: With the exception of the computer, what can you hear?:
Family Guy on the TV and a drip somewhere in the house.

7: When did you last step outside? what were you doing?:
Took the garbage out at about 8:15PM.

8: Before you came to this website, what did you look at?:
Read assorted blogs of friends and stole this survey from Kathleen.

9: What are you wearing?:
"Guinness" lounge pants, black socks, and a grey henley

10: Did you dream last night?:
I don't remember.

11: When did you last laugh really hard?:
Today at work when I walked in was told that the computers had all crashed.

12: What is on the walls of the room you are in?:
A couple framed wine posters, an Absente poster, and a 4 Australia photos in one frame

13: Seen anything weird lately?:
Just "Bi-Polar Tim" (the local crazy guy) walking in front of our house in a colorful poncho and cowboy boots.

14: what do you think of this quiz?:
Okay, I guess...

15: What is the last film you saw?:
Stalag 17 (again, great film)

16: If you became a multi-millionaire overnight, what would you buy first?:
A trip to Australia for all of my friends (and myself of course)

17: Tell me something about you that I don't know:
I have Campfire Girls merit badges. (I'll explain. I used to go to this week-long day camp when I was a kid in Oregon. When I got too old to be a camper I was allowed to be an assistant group leader/counselor. All assistants had to pass a training session in safety and crafts n' such. The camp was sponsored by the Campfire Girls organization and I was given three different merit badges when I passed.)

18: If you could change one thing about the world, regardless of guilt or politics, what would you do?:
I'd castrate and further torture any dictator or regime that causes any form of suffering or genocide among his people. One thing is not enough, though, with the current state of the world. Starvation and malnutrition, human rights, disease control, the environment, etc.

19: Do you like to dance?:
To the right song.

20: Imagine your first child is a girl, what do you call her?:
Nicole, Juliette, Amelie? (I kind of like French-sounding names)

21: Imagine your first child is a boy, what do you call him?:
Konrad (after my Swiss grandfather) Nicholas (although I hate "Nick"), Andrew

22: Would you ever consider living abroad?:
Hell yes! Melbourne would be nice. As long as all my friends can come with me.

23: are you hot?
Only to the clinically insane and the vision impaired. I'd be "okay" if I lost some weight.

A memory excercise in futility...

As I was sorting through my collection of concert T-shirts the other day to give them away I started to think about some of the concerts that I’ve attended. As a memory exercise I thought I’d try to remember all of the concerts that I’ve been to. Listed below are a bunch of bands/performers that I’ve seen in concert. Some of them are opening acts ( I never would have paid to see Sheryl Crow). I’m actually probably missing a ton. There are lots of smaller shows that may be eluding me. These are the ones that came to me pretty quickly (in no particular order)...

1. Anne Murray (I was a kid and I had no choice. It was at the Oregon State Fair with my parents. My first concert, I think.)
2. Cyndi Lauper- Twice (Yeah…that’s right! I like Cyndi Lauper. You wanna step outside?)
3. Concrete Blonde- 3 times (The first time was in1987 when they opened for Cyndi Lauper in Portland, Oregon at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.)
4. Midnight Oil
5. Hunters and Collectors
6. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds- Twice
7. Breeders
8. L7
9. George Clinton and the P-Funk All Stars
10. A Tribe Called Quest
11. Beastie Boys
12. Smashing Pumpkins
13. Boredoms
14. Pixies
15. Pere Ubu
16. Trash Can Sinatras
17. Half Japanese
18. Combustible Edison- 3 times?
19. Sex Pistols (reunion)
20. Einsturzende Neubauten- Twice
21. The Damned
22. Zu Zu’s Petals (Brownies/NYC)
23. Dambuilders (Limelight/NYC)
24. Sunny Day Real Estate (Limelight/NYC)
25. Unrest
26. Thurston Moore Trio (Tramps/NYC)
27. Two Dollar Guitar (Tramps/NYC, and in a small worldism he’s my friend’s ex-boyfriend)
28. Blonde Redhead (Tramps/NYC)
29. Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers
30. Yo La Tengo- 4 times?
31. Bettie Serveert
32. The Pastels
33. Kirsty MacColl- Twice
34. Sarah McLachlan (front row)
35. Rose Chronicles
36. Alien Sex Fiend
37. My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult
38. Lords of Acid
39. Stereolab- Somewhere around 9 or 10 times. I once saw them three times in one week (once in Detroit and twice in New York).
40. The Fall
41. Dick Dale- 3 times
42. Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys (Tramps/NYC)
43. Sheryl Crow (I’m still kvetching! She opened for Crowded House.)
44. Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians
45. Bauhaus
46. X- Twice
47. Siouxsie and the Banshees
48. Spiritualized
49. Luna
50. Mark Burgess and the Sons of God
51. Caelum Bliss
52. Windy and Carl
53. Frank Black and the Catholics
54. Murray Attaway
55. Ultra Baby Fat
56. Shane MacGowan and the Popes
57. Spider Stacey
58. Medicine (LOUDEST SHOW EVER!)
59. Peter Murphy- Twice
60. Material Issue
61. Echo and the Bunnymen
62. Psychedelic Furs
63. Electrafixion
64. Elevator Drops
65. Spearhead (NYC)
66. Sonic Youth- Twice
67. Wolf Eyes
68. Mazzy Star
69. Cornershop
70. Mouse on Mars
71. Outrageous Cherry
72. His Name is Alive
73. The Volebeats
74. Slumber Party
75. Skinhorse
76. Etta Jones
77. Houston Person
78. Benny Green
79. Neko Case and Her Boyfriends
80. Geggy Tah
81. Toad the Wet Sprocket
82. Swervedriver

That’s all that came to me but I know there are more. If you went to a show with me and I didn’t list it please let me know. My concert-going has dropped severely in the last 10 years and my memories are starting to fade. There are some bands I’ve left off on purpose because they’re TOO SMALL and don’t even merit a mention. I left off Rhythm Corps because it’s just too embarrassing as was that whole night...