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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Hello....Is anyone there???

Here we are almost a full month later and I'm finally getting around to posting another blog entry. It's not entirely my fault, however, I was a victim of circumstances. December is usually a tough month anyway, with our annual holiday concert (rehearsals, dress rehearsal and concert:, Christmas shopping, tree cutting, tree decorating, holiday parties, etc., but this year it was especially trying. Normally our concert would be over by the 9th or 10th of the month but this year the schedule had us going until the 20th. Then the BIG complication hit. There are lot's of stories around that event.

Thursday Dec 11th: If you don't know, I like to cook. I had been toying with the idea of making home made gnocchi for some time and finally decided on this day to give it a try. Around 2:00 in the afternoon I started cooking the potatoes and began the gnocchi around 3:00. Nancy wouldn't be home until later since she was going to yoga. Remind me never to make gnocchi again. What a complete and utter pain in the A?!. They came out great but it takes a long time and a lot of patience to make gnocchi. By 4:30 I barely had enough to feed two people. The plan was to freeze it and save for another day. At 4:30 my buddy Jeff called and asked if I wanted to go to a cigar tasting at Blowin' Smoke. I still had at least another hour to go before my gnocchi supplies would be exhausted, so I reluctantly said no. About ten minutes later I thought better of it and called Jeff back to pick me up. Since he was ready to go I needed to pack up and leave quickly. As we were pulling out of the driveway I noticed I had left the TV on.

The tasting was being put on by the Ashton cigar company and it just happens to be one of my favorite cigars. For $15 you received an Ashton VSG torpedo (large), a shot of Talisker scotch (one of my favorites; I'll need to blog about scotch some day), chicken wings, cheese and chocolate. The cigar alone was worth $12. To top it off they gave you 15% off on Ashton products. How could you go wrong. There were other cigar lovers around to talk to and I happened to meet a former co-worker there. I lost the business card he gave me, so unfortunately I can't contact him again. All in all, it was a nice way to spend three hours. Then we left.

It was a little icy when we exited the store and I thought to myself how the weather reports hadn't indicated any major issues for the night. By 9:00 the power went out. I started the generator and it stayed on for the next eight days. We were lucky because we did not suffer any damage from the storm but our neighbors had a tree land on their roof and four others down in their yard, including one of their beautiful apple trees.

I understand the term "cabin fever" now much better than ever before. The generator gives us the ability to prevent the basement from filling with water and keeps some basics going, but it doesn't give us all important water or flushing ability (we have a well and a pump up septic system). By day five without water, I was pretty irritable (read that down right ornery) in addition to being stinky from taking a shower only every other day. Couple that with an intestinal system that can only be used when you drive to a local restaurant to "borrow" their bathroom and I was ready to buy solar cells, a windmill and a whole house generator just as long as I could get power at any cost.

Friday December 19th: Power returned at 3:33 in the afternoon (notice the precise time; it is ingrained in my head). I wanted to sing the entire Hallelujah Chorus right there and then. It was snowing by then and wouldn't stop until Sunday night. We got 19 inches of snow that weekend. A fitting end to December of 2008.

PS: I think we'll still go with the whole house generator.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Would you care for a little w(h)ine...ehhhhhhhhhhh

After multiple phone calls and worries about the bottles freezing and bursting in transit, I finally received the shipment of wine from our California trip today. It was cold but not frozen. Here it is:

1 Bottle of Reynolds Family Winery "Persistence" (blend)
2 bottles of Hopper Creek Winery 2005 Merlot
2 bottles of Arger-Martucci Vineyards 2005 Syrah
1 bottle of Jessup Cellars 2005 "Table for Four" (blend)

I opened one of the bottles of Hopper Creek ( tonight with dinner. I took a sip almost immediately and it tasted very heavy and overly dry. After it sat for about 30 minutes it mellowed quickly and tasted fantastic. Not too dry, fruity with a nice finish and little aftertaste. This was the one I wasn't very impressed by in California, but here, it was very different. Well worth it and not that expensive ($35). You can't buy this on line yet but according to their website they will soon be making it available.

The Arger-Martucci 2005 Syrah ( will probably not be saved for very long. Syrah's aren't usually stored for long periods of time, although a few years would certainly be OK. I remember this as on the fruity side, but better than the Hopper creek. It is labeled as the "Gold Medal Winner" at the Orange County Fair (how big can the Orange County fair really be??) and sells for $30, still not very pricey.

The Reynolds Family 2005 "Persistence" ( is a blended wine, meaning it is a mix of several different grape varieties. I did not get to taste this wine in California as this was the winery that had only a barrel tasting when we were there. It is a more expensive wine ($50) and is labeled as being "Estate Bottled".

Saving the best for last. The Jessup Vineyards ( 2005 "Table For Four" ($80) is another blended wine. We didn't get to taste this one in California either, but every wine I tasted here was wonderful. This one will get saved for some special event in the distant future. I joined the wine club from this vineyard and have already received my first shipment.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Something Smells Around Here

I seem to be in a negative mood lately. First there was an entire blog on food that I just don't get and now one on the movies I can't see how they ever got into production. Movies that are intentionally bad (for laughs) don't count.

Any remake of an old classic movie. I'm dying to see the new version of "The Day The Earth Stood Still". I saw the first one as a kid and it made me love all SciFi ever since. I just know I'm going to be disappointed when I see it.

Any Clint Eastwood comedy. He's just not a funny guy.

Citizen Kane: I know, the American Film Institute has voted this the greatest movie of all time. I do understand that the camera techniques, angles and lighting were way ahead of their time, but to spend two hours watching a movie where all of the characters are trying to find out what a dying man's last words mean (rosebud) and then find out it was only...... Since seeing this for the first time, I have looked at other movies from that era to see the differences, and I do admit that the technique is way ahead of it's time, but that ending still leaves me shaking my head. I'm anticipating everyone who hasn't watched this movie to now be writing me asking "what the hell does "rosebud' mean?" I can only say, watch the movie.

Jaws 3D: All of the actors from the previous Jaws films except the sherriffs wife decided to pass on this one. How can you make a movie without all of the main characters except for one that had a total of ten minutes screen time from the previous films? I almost put this one in the category of being bad on purpose, but I don't think these people were that smart.

Time Bandits: Let's cut up organized religion and little people and make it look like it's a serious fantasy movie. Shame on the late George Harrison.

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi: Let's make a movie where every character can be turned into a toy figure. Some really cute warrior teddy bears would really sell. And lets redo the big explosion scene from the first movie a second time, after all, what works once should be even better the second time around.

The Matrix 2 and 3: A 2 for 1 here. How such a great first movie could turn into 2 such horrible sequels is beyond me. The dance scene and the love scenes add nothing to these films and actually leave you with an icky feeling. They should have stayed with the theme of waking people up to reality. The brothers blew it on these two.

Mission to Mars: Josh and I went to see this one when it first came out. At one point in the film the actors turn to each other and make some comment on how bad the movie is that they're making. By that time, everyone in the theater already had it figured out. The only one that is worse then this one is....

Open Water: The first ten minutes of this film are on land while they prepare to go out on a scuba diving expedition. The next 90 minutes were spent with me cheering for the sharks to just eat them and get it over with so we could leave. The theater was packed too.