July 15, 2018

  • The Indestructible Wine, part 2

    In my last column, I took you through some of the history of Madeira wine, and discussed its role in trade and the formation of America. Here, I continue with the topic and examine the drink itself – what it’s made of, how it’s made, and understanding what the labels mean. Madeira Island has an oceanic/tropical climate, so fungal diseases and rot are persistent problems. To combat this, grapes are grown on terraced hillsides, often trained on trellises called latada. There are four traditional grapes: Malvasia (Malmsey), Bual (Boal), Verdelho, and Sercial. The grape Tinta Negra Mole became the most…

  • Unnecessary Manuals

    My new cell phone arrived the other day and I couldn’t believe how big the shipping box was. The new phone is about the size of a credit card, but the box it came in would hold a Sears side-by-side refrigerator freezer with room left over for a homeless Sumo wrestler. I knew it was my phone, because it said so on the box, but I felt a twinge of panic. I wondered exactly how many phones I had ordered or perhaps I had misunderstood how big the thing was. After all, I had never actually seen the phone, except…

  • Grilling, Broiling, Boiling and Spitting!

    They’ll give you all kinds of reasons, guys who don’t like to cook. Some may even be true, but they ignore one simple truth: as long as you depend on someone else to do the cooking, you have no control over what you eat or how it’s prepared. For all you know, they may go off on a mad binge and start feeding you stuff that’s actually HEALTHY! Then where will you be? How will you react when you realize you’re condemned to a life of tofu, bean sprouts, yogurt, Belgian endive, and julienned rutabaga? Serves you right! On the…

  • A Wine for Lovers

    When the calendar roles around to February each year, one thing comes to most men’s minds: what in the world am I going to have to do this year to make her happy for Valentine’s? While you’re busy with flowers, dinner reservations, buying a gift that doesn’t get you exiled to the couch, and every other hoop you have to jump through, I’m here to help you make that beverage choice that scores you some points at the end of the evening. It’s called Brachetto d’Acqui, and it’s my topic for the month of February. Connoisseur Ramblings Brachetto d’Acqui, or…

  • The Water of Life

    Typically, I prefer to be relevant to the season, its holidays and so on, when not writing about Arizona wines. That means Valentine’s Day in February. I debated on champagnes, maybe dessert wines for couples, or pairing fine wines with a romantic dinner. I’m single though, and Valentine’s is more like Singles Awareness Day for me. Plus, football season will have just ended and with it the addictive distraction of fantasy leagues and other such pastimes of the manly weekend warrior. Take all of this together, and I’ve decided to scrap all things feminine or couples related and focus on one…

FEATURED WORLD EDITION

Sex Equals Happiness

May 12, 2016

JOB SATISFACTION NEWS: According to scientists in England, leaders in the field of “happiness economics,” increasing sex frequency in marriage from once a month to weekly provides as much happiness as a $50,000 a year raise. Also, a lasting marriage is the equivalent of $100,000 annually. So, if you spend too much time at the office trying to get a raise, you’re better off leaving early and doing business with your spouse. STATISTICAL NEWS: A new study shows that about 42.7% of all statistics are made up on the spot, with a margin of error of around + or –…

Lesser Known October Holidays

May 12, 2016

October 1 is World Vegetarian Day and Magic Circles Day October 2 is Name Your Car Day October 3 is Virus Appreciation Day, Techies Day October 4 is National Golf Day October 5 is National Storytelling Festival, Do Something Nice Day October 6 is German-American Day, Come and Take It Day October 7 is National Frappe Day, National Frugal Fun Day October 8 is American Tag Day October 9 is Moldy Cheese Day, Curious Events Day October 10 is National Angel Food Cake Day October 11 is It’s My Party Day October 12 is International Moment Of Frustration Scream Day…

Homeward Drowned

May 12, 2016

They say that you cannot go home— You never can go back! I’m here to take exception, and Encourage you to pack Your grip, and quit your worthless job, And terminate your lease, And drag your furniture outdoors, And burn it, piece by piece, And call the Postal Service, and Exterminate your mail, And cancel all your credit cards, And don’t forget to fail To call the county coroner, And tell him that you’re dead, But not to pick your carcass up— You’re going home, instead! And, when your bus pulls into town, Prepare to be bereft: Because, in twenty…

Laughter

May 12, 2016

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. “But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.” — Carl Sagan “Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than…

Wife Carrying Champion

May 12, 2016

SPORTING NEWS: John Farra, a former Olympic skier, won the North American Wife Carrying Championship at Sunday River, Maine last month. His first-place finish earned him and his 110-pound wife Tess her weight in beer and five times her weight in cash, or $550. Sedona considered such an event, but found no man who could lift his wife, never mind carry her. MORE SPORTING NEWS: A 62-year-old retired accountant from Nevada swallowed 247 peppers in eight minutes to win the Jalapeno Eating World Championship at the State Fair of Texas in Dallas. Richard LeFevre won $2,000 for prevailing in the…

Lesser Known September Holidays

May 12, 2016

September 1 is … Emma M. Nutt Day September 2 is … National Beheading Day September 3 is … Skyscraper Day September 4 is … Newspaper Carrier Day September 5 is … Be Late For Something Day September 6 is … Fight Procrastination Day September 7 is … Neither Rain Nor Snow Day September 8 is … National Date Nut Bread Day and Pardon Day September 9 is … Teddy Bear Day September 10 is … Swap Ideas Day September 11 is … No News Is Good News Day September 12 is … National Pet Memorial Day/ Chocolate Milkshake Day September 13 is … Defy Superstition Day September 14 is … National Cream-filled Donut…

Terrorism Creativity

May 12, 2016

TERRORISM CREATIVITY NEWS: The chairman of the Judiciary subcommittee on terrorism, technology and homeland security, said that terrorists could unleash electromagnetic bombs that would damage our vital electrical systems. He warned that an e-bomb attack could devastate the nation. This warning will create a nation of chaos with massive panic among Americans unless they realize that terrorists can’t create imaginary weapons as fast as we can create imaginary defenses against them. EDUCATION NEWS: Students at an Ivy League university were asked to write an essay that contained four subjects: religion, royalty, sex and mystery. The student who got an A+ wrote…

Laser Achievement

May 12, 2016

NUCLEAR DEFENSE NEWS: The U.S. Air Force has tested an infrared chemical laser meant to shoot down launch-phase enemy missiles from a modified 747 airliner. The test wasn’t airborne; it was in a hangar at Edwards Air Force Base, and it didn’t actually shoot anything down, but one of the contractors said it was an exceptional achievement. The project has been in progress since before 1988 when Dr. Angelo Codevilla, a staff member of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, declared the chemical laser ready to deploy. BANK ROBBERY NEWS: Thieves responsible for the $42 million heist in Belfast,…

On Age

May 12, 2016

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. “The real menace in dealing with a five-year-old is that in no time at all you begin to sound like a five-year-old.” — Jean Kerr “The older I grow, the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom.” — H. L. Mencken “We are always the same age inside.” — Gertrude Stein “It’s not catastrophes,…

Raising the Retirement Age

May 12, 2016

Excentric World staff members look at the potential results of raising the retirement age. Not only are businesses not hiring new college graduates, but seniors who don’t qualify for a gig at Wal-Mart or McDonald’s are left to their imaginations. This octogenarian (Billy) who once swung in a swing band gathered instruments from garage sales and hit the streets, performing songs from better times. Born during the Great Depression, he recalled his parents working up to their retirement years. With everyone living longer, he was forced to supplement his Social Security to pay for his parents’ nursing home bills. Billy’s…

Intelligence and Intellect

May 12, 2016

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. “If the human brain were so simple that we could understand it, we would be so simple that we couldn’t.” — Emerson M. Pugh “Character is higher than intellect. A great soul will be strong to live as well as think.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson “We’ve all met people who are supposedly incredibly intelligent but don’t know which way…

Ask Kids about Mom and Dad

May 12, 2016

Why did God make mothers? 1. She’s the only one who knows where the scotch tape is. 2. Mostly to clean the house. 3. To help us out of there when we were getting born. How did God make mothers? 1. He used dirt, just like for the rest of us. 2. Magic plus super powers and a lot of stirring. 3. God made my mom the same like he made me. He just used bigger parts. What ingredients are mothers made of? 1. God makes mothers out of clouds and angel hair and everything nice in the world and…

Side Effects

May 12, 2016

PRESCRIPTION NEWS: People suffering from chronic headaches, nausea, diarrhea, gas or dizziness may finally find relief in a medical cure-all. The only drawbacks of the new pill, available only by prescription, are the side effects: headaches, nausea, diarrhea, gas or dizziness. LAW ENFORCEMENT NEWS: A thirty-year-old Arizona lottery winner has been convicted of a felony and sentenced to 10 years in state prison or 1 day a week for 70 years. ENTREPRENEURIAL NEWS: Due to the fact that their machines only accept quarters, coin-operated laundries, car washes and amusement devices in Utah were forced to raise prices from $1.25 to…

On Wisdom

May 12, 2016

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. “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach him how to fish and you get rid of him all weekend.” — Zenna Schaffer “How to make a million dollars: First, get a million dollars.” — Steve Martin “Why don’t they make the whole plane out of that black box stuff.” — Steven Wright…

Cheeky Creations

May 12, 2016

CRACK NEWS: Outside of class and under an alter ego, the self-proclaimed artist, Stephen Murmer, a fun, popular art teacher, creates floral and abstract art by plastering his posterior and genitals with paint and pressing them against canvas. His cheeky creations sell for hundreds of dollars. This has not gone over well with Chesterfield County school officials, who placed him on administrative leave from his job in Richmond, VA. Monacan High could soon be the butt of many jokes. SPACE NEWS: Using a gold-plated 6-iron, Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin hit a golf ball into orbit from a platform on the…

Lesser Known August Holidays

May 12, 2016

August 1 . . . Friendship Day and National Raspberry Cream Pie Day August 2 . . . National Ice Cream Sandwich Day August 3 . . . National Watermelon Day August 4 . . . Twins Day Festival August 5 . . . National Mustard Day August 6 . . . Wiggle Your Toes Day August 7 . . . Sea Serpent Day August 8 . . . Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Night August 9 . . . National Polka Festival August 10. . . Lazy Day August 11. . . Presidential Joke Day August 12….

Calling All Richards

May 12, 2016

The difficulties of this world Are big and bad and mean, And charged with such uncertainties To make solutions lean. But, if you would indulge, per chance, This simple minded cuss, There’s overwhelming evidence The problem is named, “Us.” There’s way too many of us all Including me and you And, barring wars and meteors, The answers are too few. There’s way too many Lindsays and There’s way too many Dawns, There’s way too many Trevors and There’s way too many Seans. There’s way too many Meagans And there’s way to many Ricks. There’s never enough Richards cuz There’s way…

Best Actual Headlines

May 12, 2016

Crack Found on Governor’s Daughter Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers Is There a Ring of Debris around Uranus? Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over Miners Refuse to Work after Death Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant War Dims Hope for Peace If Strike Isn’t Settled Quickly, It May Last Awhile Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures Enfield (London) Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges Man Struck By Lightning Faces Battery Charge New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in…

A Week at the Gym

May 12, 2016

Dear Diary, For my 40th birthday, my dear wife purchased a week of personal training at the local health club for me. Although I am still in great shape since playing on my college football team 25 yrs ago, I decided it would be a good idea to go ahead and give it a try. Called the club and made my reservation with a personal trainer named Belinda, who identified herself as a 26-year-old aerobics instructor and model for athletic clothing and swimwear. She encouraged me to keep a diary to chart my progress. MONDAY: Started my day at 6am….

Efforts to Save on Rising Fuel Costs

May 12, 2016

Excentric World staff members take a look at Americans’ efforts to save on rising fuel costs. This motorist is a prime example of why you may not want to trade in that gas guzzling truck for a fuel saving compact. While the forklift operator argued that the vehicle could not withstand the weight of the load the homeowner ordered, the driver insisted his car had no problem carrying his order home. Judging by the photograph, the driver misjudged his car’s hauling capabilities by just a bit. The forklift driver, who snapped this picture, said the car’s axle had broken and the…

Daddy’s Diary

May 12, 2016

I found my daddy’s diary tucked Beneath his attic mess, And, lettered on the cover was, “The Secrets of Success.” I feared it would be bulging with Some windy, long laments; But when I opened it I found Three simple stanzas, hence: “To know someone, don’t listen As their lofty talk ascends, Instead, just look at what they’ve done, And who they choose as friends. And learn what you do badly, and Stop doing it, pall mall, So you can concentrate and grow In that which you do well. And, most important in your life In love, or work, or…

The Sun Mystery

May 12, 2016

In June the sun was coming up Before the crack of dawn, But, now, the thing is hold out, Not only that, but gone To bed at night much earlier— Three minutes, by the day!— And while I know this can’t be true (It’s summer; I’m at play) The trend seems clearly ominous (I’ve calculated stuff), By Christmas, it won’t shine at all And there won’t be enough Daylight and its resulting heat To keep my footsies warm And I might think of growing fur And there might be a storm And it might even snow and I Might have…

Dogs

May 12, 2016

“The reason a dog has so many friends is that he wags his tail instead of his tongue.” — Anonymous “Don’t accept your dog’s admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful.” — Ann Landers “If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.” — Will Rogers “There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.” — Ben Williams “A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.” — Josh Billings “The average dog is a nicer person than the…

Darwin Awards

May 12, 2016

Thwarted Robbery – James Elliot, would-be robber, peered down the barrel and tried the trigger again after his 38-caliber revolver failed to fire at his intended victim during a hold-up. This time, it worked. Chicago Storm – A man who shoveled snow for an hour to clear a space for his car during a blizzard in Chicago returned to find a woman had taken the space. He shot her. Crazy Bar Stop – After stopping for drinks at an illegal bar, a Zimbabwean bus driver found that the 20 mental patients he was supposed to be transporting had escaped. Not wanting to admit…

A Primer on How to Be Annoying. . .

May 12, 2016

1. At lunchtime, sit in your parked car with sunglasses on and point a hair dryer at passing cars. See if they slow down. 2. Page yourself over the intercom. Don’t disguise your voice. 3. Every time someone asks you to do something, ask if they want fries with that. 4. Put your garbage can on your desk and label it “in.” 5. Put decaf in the coffee maker for 3 weeks. Once everyone has gotten over his or her caffeine addictions, switch to espresso. 6. In the memo field of all your checks, write “for sexual favors.” 7. Finish…

Astrology for the Weak

Horoscopes for March 9-15, 2014

ARIES (March 21 – April 19) Mars quincunx Pluto and Saturn squares Pluto, bringing some tension to the areas of your chart of finances. Since Pluto is officially no longer a planet, no biggee. TAURUS (April 20 – May 20) In March, it may seem the world is moving too quickly for you and you may secretly have to make concessions. You just might bring honor back to fast food. GEMINI (May 21 -June 20) By nature, relationships cause new feelings and sometimes present challenges in understanding. This month you’ll try to understand why you have no relationship. CANCER (June…

Horoscopes for March 2-8, 2014

ARIES (March 21 – April 19) This month you will embark on a journey to discover your inner self. A wrong turn down the trail and you’ll find yourself in the middle of a spiritual safari gone awry. TAURUS (April 20 – May 20) You’ll have flashbacks of someone in authority saying that you will rue the day. You didn’t know what they meant, but in March, you will rue at least one day. GEMINI (May 21 -June 20) You will discover a hitherto unknown talent for finding odoriferous elements in everyday life. You’ll eventually quit your job at the…

Horoscopes for February 23-March 1, 2014

CAPRICORN (January 19 – February 16) February is emotional and weird which, means your family is involved. Bring your friends into the mix and you can add strange and border line illegal. AQUARIUS (February 16 – March 11) You start the month off on the right foot, with a deep sense of what you want. But you’re not thinking – you’re left footed. No Dancing With The Stars for you. PISCES (March 20 – April 18) You’ll be dreaming big and setting the tone for the weeks to come. You’ll be radiant. You’ll be impressive. You’ll brighten the lives of…

Horoscopes for February 9-15, 2014

ARIES (March 21 – April 19) A cut lip will reveal a secret you have been able to keep for years. Someone will recognize the position of the cut on the lip smear on your Valentine’s Day card. TAURUS (April 20 – May 20) The good news is you’ll finally get a job. The bad news is you’ll have to wear a dorky uniform and clap and sing goofy happy birthday songs at least twice a day. GEMINI (May 21 -June 20) You will have a very difficult time resisting temptation in February. You’ll run and you’ll hide, but somehow…

Horoscopes for February 2-8, 2014

ARIES (March 21 – April 19) You’ll try, but fail, to impress snow bunnies this ski season in Flagstaff. Too late, you’ll find everyone signed your cast, “This Stupid Thing Is Fake!” TAURUS (April 20 – May 20) This month you will discover Castor Oil is like WD40 for the gastro-intestinal tract. You’ll mix it with orange juice and end up non-squeaky clean. GEMINI (May 21 -June 20) The month of March finds you facing a conundrum?deciding whether or not to file a police report on the theft of your exotic plants for insurance purposes. CANCER (June 21 – July…

Horoscopes for January 19-25, 2014

CAPRICORN (January 19 – February 16) You’ve built up a lot of good karma over the past year, but you can’t stand around waiting for the big payback to come. What about all the years you screwed up? AQUARIUS (February 16 – March 11) You’ll encounter two challenging aspects causing you to counter the urge to make a mad dash into the sunlight. Good thing, because there was a big tree in the way. PISCES (March 20 – April 18) Competition can be extremely motivating for you this month. After conquering your visiting nieces and nephews on wii bowling, you’re…

Horoscopes for January 12-18, 2014

ARIES (March 21 – April 19) Mercury comes out of retrograde, you may become uninhibited, a bit extraverted and even a slight introspective, an antithesis to the regular abnormality of life. TAURUS (April 20 – May 20) Think carefully before taking a walk on the wild side. You might encounter lions and tigers and bears, oh my. Or maybe coyotes and bobcats and rattlers, oh my. GEMINI (May 21 -June 20) This January 1st, you have decided on the very best New Year’s Resolution ever! Remember, don’t tell anyone what it is or you may jinx it from happening. CANCER…

Horoscopes for December 29, 2013 – January 4, 2014

ARIES (March 21 – April 19) It could be you were born with the words ‘if merely human, do not approach’ etched on your aura. You also probably celebrated Chrsitmukkah. Oye Ho Ho. TAURUS (April 20 – May 20) You want to visit some exotic land for the holidays but can’t afford it. You’ll rent a foreign flick with subtitles, drink hot Chai latte and eat Bon Bons. Close enough. GEMINI (May 21 -June 20) You’ ll decide to take up with a new peer-group – the kind that’s into a spiritual, religious or metaphysical cause. It’s a good thing…