Wine and cheese

This post is for the amusement of avincie and annmeeker.

My loving husband got me a wine club membership. It is at the Cork And Cow Wine Bar at the mall near my job. We found the place by accident when we had time to kill before a movie and went in for a wine tasting.

Their tastings are offered on Tuesdays and Wednesdays every week and cost $5. YOu are given 2 crackers, a bite of cheese and tastes of 4 wine that are generous enough to be the equivalent of a glass of wine.

The club membership is $99 for the first 3 months and $40/month thereafter. It provides you with your name engraved on a Riedel red wine glass that stays there for your use when you come to taste, one free tasting every week and 2 bottles of wine chosen from the wines tasted on the first week of each month. If/when you cancel your membership, you take the glass home with you. the club wine prices range between $20 and $40 each month.

This is a fun thing for wine drinkers and I rarely go in for a tasting without spending “extra” money on tapas. And sometimes another glass or bottle of wine. Everybody wins.

Now, the Cow part of the menu. They have nice cheeses. I can easily find 3 to put together one of their cheese plates. And the bite they give you with a tasting can stretch to a nibble with each sample of wine. It changes each week, with the wines, so that can be its own adventure.

And, of course, I lost the little list of what was served the first week of this month. That was the week that the cheese was manchego.  This is a sheeps’ milk cheese.  And I usually like it.  But, I found it to be an interesting combination with the wines.  Because I hate goat cheese with the heat of a thousand suns. OK. Maybe not quite that bad. But, goats’ milk and its cheeses have a musty flavor that I find very unpleasant.  Most people I know don’t taste it whatever that particular molecule is.  I can’t avoid it.  It cannot be hidden or covered up.  My sister has tried.  And 2 of the 4 wines turned the usually pleasant sheep cheese into goat cheese on my tongue

I found that to be a fascinating example of wine and food working together.   Or not working.

I am repeatedly intrigued by how our physical perceptions differ and change.  That one was pretty dramatic.

Reading list

I am reading Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84. Murakami writes a kind of
magical realism that is quite languid and rambling. I never have any
idea of where his stories will end up. This one is 2 separate story
lines in alternating chapters that don’t seem to have any point of
convergence. At least not yet, and I’m about 1/3 of the way through
the book.

I recently finished a trilogy of Elmore Leonard novellas. I’m a fan.
He tended to write write grey characters. Rarely all good or all
bad; at the very least, flawed. Get Shorty was almost verbatim
the movie. (I think he generally wrote books that were easily adapted
to screenplays.) Tishomingo Blues had a happier ending that I
tend to expect from Leonard. Killshot had me nervous the whole
time I was reading it, waiting for something awful to happen to the
main characters because the bad guys were absolute psychopaths.

Wheel of Time

I just finished listening to Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. The series is 14 volumes and they are all over 20 hours long; some over 40. I had started them when they first came out, but got frustrated by the need to reread them when the new ones were released in order to remember all the characters and decided to wait until it was finished.

It’s a sword and sorcery fantasy series. I like the story. I, generally, like the characters. However, Jordan’s writing style is Dickensian. He describes what everyone is wearing EVERY TIME YOU ENCOUNTER THEM. All the horses get names. And descriptions. I tend to skip over battle descriptions when I read a book. You can’t really do that with audio.  Also, the raging sexism is tiresome.

Am I sorry I spent the time listening to them? No. I was going to be listening to something, anyway.

Do I regret giving time to this story. No. I was satisfied with the finished product. Although, I did get frustrated with the slow pace caused by the excessive descriptions, sometimes.

Will I listen to it again? Hard to say. I might decide to revisit it in a decade.

Do I wish I had paid $28 per hardback to read it sooner? HELL NO. I really do feel like half the paper was wasted.

Excerpts from ‘The Last Viridian Note by Bruce Sterling

You will need to divide your current possessions into four major categories.

1. Beautiful things.
2. Emotionally important things.
3. Tools, devices, and appliances that efficiently perform a useful function.
4. Everything else.

“Everything else” will be by far the largest category. Anything you have not touched, or seen, or thought about in a year — this very likely belongs in “everything else.”

You should document these things. Take their pictures, their identifying makers’ marks, barcodes, whatever, so that you can get them off eBay or Amazon if, for some weird reason, you ever need them again. Store those digital pictures somewhere safe — along with all your other increasingly valuable, life-central digital data. Back them up both onsite and offsite.

Then remove them from your time and space. “Everything else” should not be in your immediate environment, sucking up your energy and reducing your opportunities. It should become a fond memory, or become reduced to data.

It may belong *to* you, but it does not belong *with* you. You weren’t born with it. You won’t be buried with it. It needs to be out of the space-time vicinity. You are not its archivist or quartermaster. Stop serving that unpaid role.

Beautiful things are important. If they’re truly beautiful, they should be so beautiful that you are showing them to people. They should be on display: you should be sharing their beauty with others. Your pride in these things should enhance your life, your sense of taste and perhaps your social standing.

They’re not really *that* beautiful? Then they’re not really beautiful. Take a picture of them, tag them, remove them elsewhere.

All of us have sentimental keepsakes that we can’t bear to part with. We also have many other objects which simply provoke a panicky sense of potential loss — they don’t help us to establish who we are, or to become the person we want to be. They subject us to emotional blackmail.

Is this keepsake so very important that you would want to share its story with your friends, your children, your grandchildren? Or are you just using this clutter as emotional insulation, so as to protect yourself from knowing yourself better?

Think about that. Take a picture. You might want to write the story down.
Then — yes — away with it.

You are not “losing things” by these acts of material hygiene. You are gaining time, health, light and space. Also, the basic quality of your daily life will certainly soar. Because the benefits of good design will accrue to you where they matter — in the everyday.

Now for category three, tools and appliances. They’re not beautiful and you are not emotionally attached to them. So they should be held to keen technical standards.

Is your home a museum? Do you have curatorial skills? If not, then entropy is attacking everything in there. Stuff breaks, ages, rusts, wears out, decays. Entropy is an inherent property of time and space. Understand this fact. Expect this. The laws of physics are all right, they should not provoke anguished spasms of denial.

You will be told that you should “make do” with broken or semi-broken tools, devices and appliances. Unless you are in prison or genuinely crushed by poverty, do not do this. This advice is wicked.

Get excellent tools and appliances. Not a hundred bad, cheap, easy ones. Get the genuinely good ones. Work at it. Pay some attention here, do not neglect the issue by imagining yourself to be serenely “non-materialistic.” There is nothing more “materialistic” than doing the same household job five times because your tools suck. Do not allow yourself to be trapped in time-sucking black holes of mechanical dysfunction. That is not civilized.

That smile

Yesterday, I was listening to Clive Barker’s The Scarlet Gospels.  I’ve really been enjoying it.  It’s incredibly grizzly and completely over the top.  (It’s about Pinhead, of Hellraiser fame; so, that’s to be expected.)

One of the characters was described as having a “Gioconda smile.”

The Mona Lisa (La Gioconda or La Joconde, or Portrait of Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco del Giocondo)

The Mona Lisa (La Gioconda or La Joconde, or Portrait of Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco del Giocondo)

I like Barker’s use of language as much as I enjoy the stories he tells.

Ruining a steak

I saw this graphic on FaceBook this morning and it made me think of my grandmother:

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Kate grew up in the country. Her father was a farmer with a third grade education. They didn’t always have a lot of ready cash, but they were never, ever hungry. It was kind of a shame that she didn’t like “vegetavles,” because they were abundant. She was a bread-and-meat kind of girl. And, when she was old, she enjoyed going out for dinner to a steak house.

I took her to a Western Sizzlin’ or whatever equivalent was in Morganton, NC, one time, and freaked out the guy taking our order when she asked for a filet mignon cooked well done. He said “It will be a charcoal briquet if we do that.” She insisted that was always how she had her meat cooked. He found his manager to deal with her because he was at a complete loss for what to do. The manager said, “We can butterfly it and cook it that way, but a filet is too think to make it well done and still be edible.” I said that would be fine.

When it came to the table, she was delighted. It was the best steak she had ever had.

Sometime after that, I took her out for dinner, again, and, again, she ordered a filet cooked to death. The server got this appalled expression and started to say something. I stopped him, smiling, and said, “Just have the kitchen butterfly it and cook it that way. She will be delighted with it.” He kind of shook his head and wrote down the rest of our order.

And she was delighted. I was, too. It made me happy to have the ability to make her happy and de-stress the people who were helping me do that.

Paste magazine’s list of 30 of the Best Horror Books

Yes.  I realize there are 31 books on the list.  Not my fault Paste is a little tweaked.

This is the list from the article found here: http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2015/04/required-reading-40-of-the-best-horror-novels.html

Bold means I’ve read it.  Italics means I only saw the movie.  Both means I read it AND saw the movie.

  1. American Psycho – Bret Easton Ellis
  2. The Amityville Horror – Jay Anson
  3. Books of Blood, Vol. 1-3 – Clive Barker
  4. Broken Monsters – Lauren Beukes
  5. Carrion Comfort – Dan Simmons
  6. Coraline – Neil Gaiman
  7. The Damnation Game – Clive Barker
  8. Dracula – Bram Stoker
  9. The Exorcist – William Peter Blatty
  10. Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus – Mary Shelley
  11. Ghost Story – Peter Straub
  12. The Girl Next Door – Jack Ketchum
  13. Haunted – Chuck Palaniuk
  14. The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson
  15. Heart-Shaped Box – Joe Hill
  16. Horns – Joe Hill
  17. House of Leaves – Mark Z. Danielewski
  18. I have No Mouth, And I Must Scream – Harlan Ellison
  19. It – Stephen King
  20. John Dies @ the End – David Wong
  21. Let the Right One In – John Ajvide Lindqvist
  22. Little Star – John Ajvide Lindqvist
  23. The Complete Fiction of H. P. Lovecraft – Howard Phillips Lovecraft
  24. Lunar Park – Bret Easton Ellis
  25. The Metamorphosis – Franz Kafka
  26. The October Country – Ray Bradbury
  27. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark – Alvin Schwartz
  28. Silence of the Lambs – Thomas Harris
  29. The Shining – Stephen King
  30. The Tune of the Screw – Henry James
  31. World War Z – Max Brooks

I’m saving this for the times when I can’t decide what to read next.

Bone Wind

Found on Tumblr this morning by following #ordinary things.  I”m saving it here because I really like the poem and want to remember it in December.

http://witchesandpagans.com/sagewoman-blogs/woodspriestess/bonewind-s-return.html

Bone wind has returned b2ap3_thumbnail_February-2015-117.JPG
    mother of winter’s chill
    sweeping through bare branches
    and rattling dusty leaves.

    The remnants of summer
    have completely faded
    and the doorway to the new year
    has cracked open.

    With the skeletal swirl of frost and freeze
    I see the hint
    of new things
    waiting to burst from behind the door.

    Hibernating now perhaps
    hunkered down to wait it out
    resting, biding time, percolating
    nestled in darkness
    but, oh so ready, to grow.

    It is only on the surfaceb2ap3_thumbnail_February-2015-122.JPG
    that the world prepares to take a long nap
    underneath the crust
    change boils
    life bubbles
    new ideas gestate
    and time crowns anew
    with the promise and potential of birth
    held in cupped hands.

    The flame of fresh ideas flickers
    and catches
    until the blaze of possibility
    envelopes the cold.

RiverRun Film Festival, 2015 – Part 2

Yosemite  “The lives of three 5th graders intertwine in the suburban paradise of Palo Alto circa 1985, as the threat of a mountain lion looms over the town. Featuring James Franco in a supporting role, the film is adapted from short stories in Franco’s collection ‘A California Childhood.’ ”

This wasn’t really what we expected.  We thought we were getting a variation on “Stand By Me” and instead it simply a week in the lives of 3 boys.  So, the 11 year old who went along was completely underwhelmed.

It was scary in an anticipating-something-bad-happening kind of way.  So much so that it was a relief when it finally did.

I like it better in retrospect than I did while I watched it.  Which isn’t uncommon for me watching that kind of film.

The Long Start to the Journey  “Filmmaker Chris Gallaway documents his own personal attempt to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail and to learn what the path means to individuals he meets along the way. This is a personal story of struggle and perseverance as well as a historical account of the origins and cultural relevance of the Appalachian Trail.”

I think this is probably the best film about the AT that has been made.  It has a little history, some gorgeous scenery and tons of information about what to expect.  I think anyone considering hiking it, sectionally or through-hiking, should see it.