February 28, 2021

First Family To Go To Moon Soon … by Blodwyn Smythe

With just days before Halloween, a month before Thanksgiving, yet still another month to go before revelers get to shout, “Merry Christmas,” becuase Americans know that wishing people “Happy Holidays” or “Peace on Earth, Good Will To Men” is totally unacceptable in the new Trumpian World, formerly the United States of America, scuttlebut is leaking from the White House that the Trumps are planning an extended vacation out of this world – the likes of which no one has ever witnessed. Someone was even rumored to have been concked on the head for writing, “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” on…

Online Role-Playing

Dear Frankly, My dad has found an online role-playing game with live people and everything, but now he is talking to them more than his own family. He doesn’t even eat dinner with us so he can play this stupid game. He doesn’t understand that as much fun as he is having with his game, he is hurting us. It is also getting in the way of my parents’ marriage. They have been married for 20 years; I don’t want it to end because of my dad’s childishness. How do I tell him to stop? Should I just delete the…

The Wino’s Geek Speak Part Deux

I began explaining some style definitions and descriptive terms commonly used by winemakers as they discuss and evaluate the labors of their fruit. Here I continue on with the topics of taste and smell that were cut from my last column to be pasted here for your enjoyment. Bitterness, Astringency, and Tannins What many people run in fear of when mistakenly saying a wine (particularly reds) is too dry are overly tannic wines that leave a bitter flavor and extreme puckering astringency. Many people confuse bitterness and astringency. Bitterness is a flavor. It’s somewhat difficult to describe without making you…

Speaking in Code

Dear Frankly, My name is Larry and my girlfriend has just decided to “take a break” with me. I said, “OK,” but now she’s trying to stay away from me. She has asked me to stop calling her and she has also told me that we can’t see each other as much anymore because she needs some “personal space.” She won’t even give me a chance to try to work things out. What am I supposed to do? Please help me. How can I win her back? Lovelorn Larry Dear Lovelorn, I can’t see why you would want to get…

A Winery’s Best Friend

I’ve easily been to over 100 tasting rooms at various wineries around the world. I’ve probably easily been to over 200. I can’t really say as I lost count a long time ago. How many wineries I’ve been to isn’t important though, as this article isn’t about how much wine I’ve had to drink. I wanted to talk about something I think is a must have, necessary, arguably mandatory requirement for having a great winery: cool pets that give a friendly greeting and enjoyable experience to everyone that visits the winery. Most tasting rooms, especially the ones in the well…

Note from Santa

I’m sitting, watching shoppers with Their yuletide kids in tow, And thinking of a Christmas Eve Some 30 years ago. A simple one-room cabin on A deep Montana lake, A wild goose in the oven, and Snow drifting, flake by flake. Before the evening ended, we Left cookies for Saint Nick, And snuggled down together with A stove-warmed bedtime brick. We crawled out Christmas morning to The wood fire’s flickering light, And stared, astonished, at the gift That Santa left last night. For scrawled in charcoal on the wall, These blackened words, forsooth: “Believe in The Impossible, For there, you’ll…

Eau, That’s Schnapps

I recall having a conversation with a woman while out wine tasting one day several years ago. She was very excited because she was taking a trip to Germany, and one of her scheduled events was touring about a few schnapps distilleries. I struck up a conversation with her on the topic since I’m a fan of all tasty beverages, had just been to Germany, and enjoyed a few schnapps while there. It seems she was a big fan of the sweet, syrupy, flavored liqueurs that most Americans associate with schnapps (we spell it with two P’s, the Germans only…

Christmas Ghosts

Q: The first Christmas I spent with my husband’s family was at his oldest brother’s house. When we got there, they (my husband’s family) told me that the house was haunted. I didn’t mind because I’ve been in haunted houses before. They told me to be careful walking down the stairs because the ghosts pushed people down the stairs. I was coming down stairs to to peek at my gifts when, all of a sudden, I felt someone push my feet out from under me. I ended up falling down the first four stairs. I was slightly bruised, but okay….

Communication Gap

Dear Frankly, There is a communication gap between my husband and me. We have been married for 22 years. During the last 5 years, things seem to have been breaking down more and more between us. We don’t have a decent conversation for more than 2 minutes. My eldest daughter asked us some time back why we don’t just get divorced as there is no communication between us anymore. How do I rectify this? Wordless Wendy Dear Wordless, I fail to see the problem, dear. My fifth husband and I barely said “boo” after we said “I do.” Of course,…

Hard to Starboard

The holiday season is a great time for food lovers. All sorts of delectable goodies find their way to the table. Beverages are no exception, and this time of year tends to see the dusting off of various specialty wines, that although great year round, usually are associated with the festivities of the holidays. One particular style has always been a favorite of mine. I’ve touched on it superficially before, but I want to delve into the world of Port Wine and bring you some knowledge behind one of the world’s great beverages. Port is what’s known as fortified wine. That…

Strange and Unexplainable Things

Q: Nature does some strange and unexplainable things. I read where in 1877, Memphis, Tennessee experienced a rain of snakes that measured in length from between 12 and 18 inches. On September 4, 1886, three separate showers of polished stones fell on Charleston, South Carolina. And in 1893, a yellow-tinged cloud passing over Paderborn, Germany, released a shower of living pond mussels. Can you explain these phenomena? A: Right around this time, lobotomies were becoming a popular form of therapy and a vice for some doctors. Of course, in the Southern states, it was explained as voluntary experimental psychosurgery. Q:…

Ban the Bar Stool

Dear Frankly, I am single, don’t want to be. I lack the two major cornerstones to change: the confidence to approach women, and the opportunities to meet them. I’m 25, reasonably good looking, intelligent and not entirely lacking in charm. In all other aspects of life I don’t lack confidence, but when it comes to women, I become a weak kneed wuss. I can’t even get off my stool at the bar to approach them. Can you suggest anything to help me? Weak Kneed Wuss Dear Weak, I met my third husband at a bar. It was love at fourth…

Crop Circles and Little People

Q: I understand that a small farm recently had crop circles discovered in the corn field. Investigators do not believe, based on their field work, that the Lawton formation was mechanically made by people. While more people went to investigate the phenomenon, it was destroyed by a young female neighbor who drove through the field with her truck and did donuts. She told one neighbor she thought one of the aliens got her pregnant. Could this be true? A: Sure. Women impregnated by aliens commonly crave strange foods and demonstrate rare forms of morning sickness. Often, donuts are involved. Q:…

Let’s Go Tasting

One thing I’ve mostly avoided in the almost five years of writing this column is being a simple wine critic that gives you a list of wines complete with my personal opinion and some arbitrary number score. I myself am a critic of the critics, as many times I don’t feel they do justice to the wine world since each critic comes with a full set of biases on what they like and don’t like, and simply telling you wines they enjoy without admitting their bias faults doesn’t help you if your palate differs from theirs. That being said, reviews…

Ghostly Things

Q: Some people claim to have seen their dead relatives standing at the foot of their beds late at night. Are they really communicating with the ones crossed over or do you think perhaps they are just dreaming? A: It’s all a dream. You wouldn’t truly recognize anyone due to the fact that people’s images change when they are astral and, therefore, all humans look alike. Some people feel this is ethereal bigotry, but it is true. All ghosts look alike. Q: I recently went to a website that showed pictures of what people thought were ghosts or unexplainable sources…

On Humor

(curmuj”un), n. origin unknown 1. crusty, ill-tempered, churlish old man. 2. anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone who points out facts in an engaging manner. “All I need to make a comedy is a park, a policeman and a pretty girl.” — Aristotle “Total absence of humor renders life impossible.” — Colette “Humor is always based on a modicum of truth. Have you ever heard a joke about a father-in-law” — Dick Clark “A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things…

Virgin Birth and Unfinished Borscht-ness

Q: I read that scientists have discovered many creatures living in Australia are giving males the flick and opting for all-female communities that reproduce by cloning themselves. They reproduce by parthenogenesis, or virgin birth, but why and where, has researchers baffled. Asexual reproduction–so rare that less than one species in 1,000 practices it–tends to occur in extreme environments, such as high altitudes, high latitudes, deserts and places disturbed by fires and droughts. Have you heard of such phenomena? A: I have heard that because of the small number of available decent men, Texas women are establishing asexual reproduction workshops.  …

Proceeding Perplexment

Dear Frankly, I have been married to the same man for more than twenty years. The emotional attachment is pretty much gone now and we have developed our own circle of friends and interests. We see each other at dinner time a couple of days a week and go together to social functions that involve our work places. Neither of us has had the nerve to broach the subject of divorce, but I fear both of us feel it is inevitable. Should I initiate the proceedings or wait it out? Soon-to-be Single Dear Soon-to-be, The tone and temperature of your…

What’s the Word for It?

One of my favorite things to poke fun of in the wine world is the critical review. I find many of them comical because it seems that the writers try to find the most obscure phrase possible. While characters of earthy morning dew from a Tuscan field may sound adventurous, it doesn’t really tell you much about the wine. The sensory teams in winemaking try to evaluate their wines in clear and concise terms. Esoteric descriptions are to be avoided as best as possible, but that’s not to say that exotic terms aren’t still valid descriptors. Lychee for instance is…

Spanking the Devil Out and Lost Time

Q: I see where they came out with a prequel to The Exorcist. I have a friend who is trying to get a priest or psychic to perform an exorcism on his son. He claims he is possessed by demons and that is why he does weird things like torture small animals and threaten and harass the neighborhood kids. Do you think he could be possessed by the devil? A: It never ceases to amaze me the number people who believe some external force is in control of their mental faculties and physical actions. Up until about a decade ago,…

Time Travel Easier with Peyote

Q: I am interested in time travel. I have yet to experience going forward or back in time personally, but I have read the late Carlos Castaneda wrote that the sorcerer Don Juan Matus believed in the existence of an area best described as a “crevasse between realities” in which the material world imperceptibly gives way to the spirit world and other dimensions. Do you know any time travelers? A: I overheard a guy at a diner telling someone that he had been missing a couple of days. I usually attribute that to alcohol blackouts. Remember, the people in Castaneda’s…

BBQ Brouhaha

Dear Frankly, My future mother-in-law has been good–non-interfering nor manipulative. Until now. She is in charge of the rehearsal dinner and instead of having it catered, she decided to host a barbeque. I was disappointed, but agreed. My fiancee and I gave her the list of guests. Now she says that she has six friends in town who she is including at the dinner. I told her to forget about the dinner, I would host it myself in a restaurant. Now she says that she won’t be there. Who’s right? Soon-to-be Married Dear Soon-to-be, A barbecue sounds yummy. Looking at…

On Politics

cur-mudg-eon (cur-muj”un), n. [origin unknown] 1. archaic: a crusty, ill-tempered, churlish old man. 2. modern: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner. “Sir, I would rather be right than be President.” — Henry Clay “Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.” — Paulo Freire “Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.” — John…

Aussie Wine Advocate

Many people in the wine industry can recall a moment early in their career when they tasted something absolutely memorable. My moment happened in the Barossa Valley, Australia during the 1997 Culinary Festival, a now defunct event that brought together the best of Adelaide cuisine with Barossa wine. I was at the Elderton Winery and it was their 1995 Barossa Shiraz. It tasted like someone had taken a pepper grinder to my glass. I’ve been a wine geek ever since. I’ve also been an Aussie advocate ever since. Australian wines enjoyed a boom during the 90s food culture revolution here…

UFO Sighting at Myrtle Beach

Q: I had a very odd experience in Myrtle Beach, SC, in September 2003. My wife and I went there for a week on vacation. Around 12:30am, my wife was asleep and I was up watching television. Our balcony door was open, so I could still hear the ocean. Looking out, I spotted a large, bright, red object as large as the full moon hovering way out over the ocean, just above the horizon. Then, out of nowhere, two military fighter jets flew over and made a beeline straight toward the object, which suddenly burst straight up into the sky…

Catch His Name Before Falling

Dear Frankly, Every time a young man I am attracted to says or does something nice to me, I fall head over heels in love with him. I have no idea why, and this happens all the time. I even fall in love with men I meet for the first time–and I think that they love me. When I see them again they either completely ignore me or flirt with another girl. I set my self up to be hurt. I know I shouldn’t get my hopes up about a guy, but I always do. What do you think I…

More on Politics

cur-mudg-eon (cur-muj”un), n. [origin unknown] 1. archaic: a crusty, ill-tempered, churlish old man. 2. modern: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner. “Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.” — Mark Twain “We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.” — Winston Churchill “A government which robs…

Haunted by Clocks

Q: Lights are blowing out near me….above me…..beside me. Street lights blow when I drive or walk by. TV’s at home and work are coming on by themselves. This happens everyday at least 3-4 times. My debit card has been reissued twice because the magnetic strips aren’t working. I’m also haunted by clocks. Every time I look at a clock, it’s 11 after the hour. Right now it’s 12:11. Is there someone I can talk to? A: Talk to an electrician, change the batteries in your remote and make your appointments for 11 after the hour. By the way, I’m…

Beer: The Other Food Pairing

The dragon the wine world forever chases is food pairing. It started with the simple mantra of white wine with fish, red wine with meat. Now there seems to be a whole industry searching out all the flavor nuances of a particular dish and what wine matches best with that. It’s been a boon for the culinary world as the diversity of tastes from cuisines around the globe has caused a food renaissance in the United States that has taken us from the bland meat and potatoes of years past to vibrant, bold flavors that enhance the pleasure of eating…

Many Names for Large Hairy Ape-like Creatures

Q: Large, hairy ape-like creatures have been reported in every state of the U.S. In the Pacific Northwest, it’s called Sasquatch. In places like Ohio, it’s known as Bigfoot. But in Florida and a few other Southern states, the tall, upright walking hominid is called the Skunk Ape. A highly credible sighting of the Skunk Ape was reported in 2004. It was crouching in a ditch, but as the observer slowed her car to see it better, the creature stood to its full six to eight-foot height. Do you believe these creatures exist? A: Really tall, really hairy guys that…