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Hungover in Boston’s South Station, Speaking with Greek Gods (or “Twitter Taste Live: The Aftermath”)

Vinted on April 20, 2009 binned in 1WD LIVE, best of, on the road, twitter taste live

“When our weary world was young

the Struggle of the Ancients

first began;

The Gods of Love and Reason

sought alone to rule the Fate of Man”

- Neil Peart, from Hemispheres

I am in the throes of TTL Aftermath.

Put another way, I’m extremely hungover from co-hosting the latest Twitter Taste Live event – the largest of its kind, ever – the kind of hungover that makes you mutter curse words aloud at the random air molecules that are causing you physical pain as they bounce off your head.

Actually, the air molecules aren’t so much bouncing as they are attacking, with extreme prejudice, using some sort of especially violent molecular kung-fu.

It’s the kind of pain that is somewhat abated by a) sleeping in until the hotel forces you to checkout, then b) spending a few hours walking the Wharf in Boston to take in the harbor air (and take advantage of Boston’s Spring, which is nearly an entire day-and-a-half in length).  I wore my Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl XLIII Champions t-shirt, just in case anyone mistook me for a despondent Patriots fan.

By most accounts, the TTL event (which took place Friday across three time zones, and featured wines from Hospice du Rhone producers) was a big success.  We had what seemed (to me, at least) to be a relatively small but passionate contingent participating in the East Coast portion of the event.  On the Right Coast we had a sort-of battle between Aussie and California producers, but the clear winner was not terroir but the white Rhone varieties themselves – our participants enjoyed the white wines that bookended the on-line tasting: Rutherglen’s extremely well-balanced Marsanne / Viognier blend (“The Alliance”) and the honeysucke-sweet Le Vol Des Anges, a late-harvest Roussanne dessert wine from Bonny Doon.  I think the East Coasters were able to try something new, and open up their wine worlds just a teeny-tiny bit.

The Second Glass (who were thoughtful – and probably over-busy – enough not to mention that I am long, long overdue on my writing assignment for them) really knows how to throw a top-notch event, and Wine Riot! was a great time.  I’m finding myself a bit sad at the prospect of missing the second night of the Riot – my liver, however, is extremely pleased that I’m homeward bound).

While I thoroughly enjoyed myself, I was inwardly torn the entire night (I also struggled to behave myself on twitter as my tweets were being broadcast on projectors throughout the event location).

I’m a very social animal, and I’m a recovering chronic multi-tasker, so I try very hard to concentrate on the moment and not try to have too many things going on at once.  Co-hosting a Twitter Taste Live event is the equivalent of me falling off of that wagon.  The TTL events are frenetic, and it’s tough keeping up with the influx of information coming in from the stream twitterati comments (which are more often than not fantastic and energizing, so I don’t want to miss them).  Throw in a near-constant stream of friendly and buzzed Bostonians who are coming to check out TTL, media types who are asking you and your posse for interviews (I did take part in one which was filmed, and will try to get a link out to that when/if I get one sent to me), hanging with the generous and excellent guys behind TTL (Craig and Chris) and trying to catch up with other bloggers (like uber-consumer Rob Dwyer and the uber-funny Dale Cruse)… well, it’s just a recipe for Dude Brain Meltdown.

My natural inclination is to engage with the people physically in front of me, and so the TTL stream likely suffered from lack of my full attention in co-hosting.  As soon as the TTL event drew towards a logical close, I had to shut down the netbook and get my social-butterfly groove on (at the expense of my social networking groove).

My fear is that, during the time when both streams were full-on, my lack of ability to effectively balance them caused both the on-line and off-line events to suffer, in “Jack of all trades, master of none” fashion.  This has potential negative impacts on both my on- and off-line lives, of course: in these situations, should we potentially piss-off the people who are right in front of us by appearing aloof and anti-social, or potentially piss-off the contingent of on-line participants who are expecting us to converse with them, hopefully uninterrupted, in a unique shared experience in real-time?

F**k!

In my increasingly-inebriated state, I imagined the ancient Greek gods battling over topic of where my attentions (and intentions) should lie:

Apollo – God of Reason, Logic, Lunar landing vehicles, & General Level-Headedness
Dionysius – God of Love, Wine, & Aggressive Social Palm-Pressing

“Joe, this is not going well.  Despite the fact that you want to talk to the people that are physically in front of you, you have a duty to co-host and interact with the on-line TTL participants.”

“Don’t listen to that guy.  You’re here in Boston, you should enjoy yourself.  Did you see all of those booth babes?  There must be a thousand bottles of wine up in this joint. Here – take another sip…”

“Once again, Dionysius you show why he cannot be trusted to give Joe proper discourse. Joe, you must keep your countenance and abilities lest you drunk-tweet and damage your on-line brand image!”

“Countenance?  Brand image?  What planet is this dork from, anyway?  Jeez, did you see how tight the shirt was on that girl who wanted to talk to you?  Are you drunk yet?”

“I should come to expect such blinkered, juvenile and puerile attacks from you, Dionysius.  And it’s clear that… wait a second, did you just give me the finger?!??  You a—hole!!!”

“You wanna piece of me, Logic Boy? Come an’ get it!  Or should we just sit here and wait for us to all die while you prattle on with yer analysis-paralysis?   Hey, let go of my tunic, d—khead!!!”

    

 

What does it take to make these guys just shut up already ?!??

Anyway, I’m really, really hoping that I did you all (both on- and off-line) better than that in how I handled things Friday evening.

And I’m also really, really hoping that I won’t need medication for hearing the voices of battling ancient Greek deities in my head when I’m drinking.

If you’ve got advice for a former chronic multi-tasker on how to handle these sort of conflicts, I’d love to hear it, because I’m not sure that I participated in either the on-line or the off-line as well as I would have liked.  In fact, I’m am sure that I didn’t participate in either as well as I would’ve liked.

I’d love to blame the booze (and let’s face it, the TTL Grenache-based selections were whoppers and approached Port-like abv levels) but for me the struggle began long before the high-alcohol Rhone varietal buzz kicked in.

At the very least, I had a great time.  And as Ricky Nelson once said, “you can’t please everyone, so you gotta please yourself…”

Cheers!

(images: 1WineDude, pantheon.org, mythencyclopedia.com)

Pennsylvania Repeals Prohibition!

Vinted on April 1, 2009 binned in best of, Inebriated Press, pennsylvania, PLCB

Associated Grape Press (ha-ha… get it?)

In a stunning and bizarre turn of events today, Pennsylvania has repealed Prohibition, thus ending years of tyrannical and strict governance over the sale and distribution of alcohol within the Commonwealth.

Upon reports of the repeal, elated Pennsylvanians stormed the Harrisburg, PA offices of the state-run monopoly Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB), dismantling the building and retaining small pieces of its edifice to keep as mementos of the historic occasion.  A confused and inebriated State Governor Ed Rendell, believing the events to be related to an Eagles football pep rally, attempted to lead the crowd in a rendition of Eagles fight song “Fly Eagles Fly” before vomiting on himself, and then passing out.

At the state borders, heart-rending and tearful reunions between state residents and their beloved bottles of previously unavailable wine took place, as both were finally free to legally cross state lines without fear of incarceration or retribution.

The repeal was the result of a strange cascade of events in which the increasingly complicated rules and laws protecting the PLCB imploded in on themselves.

As former PLCB CEO Joe Conti explained, “Well, we thought that we’d try to continue our balladromic move towards making the PLCB and the state of Pennsylvania a Communist institution.  To that end, we realized that the PLCB actually belonged to the People of the Commonwealth, so naturally we turned control of the PLCB over to the People, in order to completely fulfill the Communist manifesto.  Quite simle, really.”

Once the Commonwealth’s citizens were informed that they now controlled the PLCB, they promptly disbanded the institution, thus ending nearly 90 years of monopolized alcohol control in the state.

When asked what he would do now that the PLCB had been disbanded, former CEO Conti replied, “Well, I guess I’ll have a drink.  There’s a sweet Oregon Pinot I’ve been dying to try, but until now the PLCB laws had made it too expensive for them to sell here…”

Govenor Ed Rendell was understandably unavailable for comment…

Why Huge Wine Lists Suck

Vinted on January 26, 2009 binned in best of, commentary, learning wine

With the recent review I penned for WCDish.com, I’ve had restaurant wine lists on the brain lately.

Which means that this post will likely be ill-timed, given the dearth of restaurant-goers in an economy that is wading knee-deep in layoff announcements. Oh well – timing was never one of my strong suits.

Anyway, as a semi-educated wine geek, I fully appreciate that I might approach a restaurant wine list in a slightly different way than the average diner, in that I might have a deeper knowledge of what the foreign word mean, or what the wine is supposed to taste like from region XYZ.

Which is not to say that I think I’m smarter than the average restaurant-goer; quite the contrary, as I can tell you that 90% of them will be able to calculate an appropriate tip faster than I can (I like words – math… not so much). It just means that I’m probably geekier about wine than the average restaurant-goer.

But… at the restaurant table, while I may have more trouble with tip calculation due to my mathematically-challenged brain, my wine list perusal goal is no different than the average restaurant goer’s: find a good bottle of wine at a decent price that will go well with dinner.
Which is why I think that huge-ass restaurant wine lists suck.

Tyler over at Dr. Vino recently posted an article about a Tampa restaurant (Bern’s) that might be of interest to those who will be traveling to Tampa to watch the STEELERS trounce the Cardinals in Superbowl XLIII. Bern’s boasts 6,800 selections and more than 500,000 bottles. I don’t even want to see that wine list.

For me, dozens of pages detailing hundreds of choices of wine amounts to two things:

  1. A brief curiosity as I look up something geeky say softly, to no one in particular, “Wow. They have a bottle of 1925 Chateau Légendaire Maison Pompeux that costs more than my car…” (this might have appeal to boring wine snobs, but if that’s your clientelle then I am probably not coming back to your restaurant anytme soon)…
  2. …that quickly becomes a big distraction. If I am at a dinner with a group of like-minded wine geeks, then by all means bring on the wine cellar curiosities. Chances are that I’m not, however, and a huge wine list distracts from the dinner conversation and enjoyment that I should be having while I try to reason with the weighty tome of vino choices.

And the wine geeks out there will appreciate that it’s always you that has to pick the wine – and the larger the wine list, the faster it will get tossed your way by the other dinner guests.

Here’s an example:

A few years ago Mrs. Dudette and I took a trip to Vegas (baby, Vegas) and caught up with some old college friends of mine. We decided to grab dinner at Aureole, the restaurant with over 800 bottles of wine, which are stored in a glass tower and retrieved by babes on hoists.

The wine list is a tablet PC with a touch screen, with which you can browse and search the wine offerings. Sounds like a time saver, but it turned into exactly the same type of curiosity / distraction. While trying to settle on one of the 800+ bottles, I spent too much time looking at the bottles of 1925 Chateau Légendaire Maison Pompeux* that cost more than my car, and not enough time enjoying the conversation with my friends.

And after all, what’s better – oohing and ahhing over a list of stuff you can’t afford to drink, or drinking something good and sharing it with friends?

In my book, there’s no contest.

Kind of like there’s no contest in the upcoming Superbowl…

Go STEELERS!
(images: picasa/chung, m-kerho.net)

* – Not a real producer. At least, not that I’m aware of, anyway…

Best Posts of 2008 (Yet Another Cheesy End of Year Recap!)

Vinted on December 31, 2008 binned in best of


With 2009 breathing down onto our collective necks, I thought I’d offer up a recap of the best 10 1WD posts form 2008.

Sure, it’s cheesy. But can I offer you a tangential reference to the movie Best of the Best 2, which was also cheesy but starred Eric Roberts and Wayne Newton? That’s gotta count for something, right?

No? Crap… never mind…

The only qualifying factor for determining which posts are on this list is my own personal whimsy. New Year’s is not a time for precise science. It’s a time for getting giggly on some bubbly.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the recap, especially if you find articles here that you haven’t perused before on 1WD.

And I wish you & yours a fantastic – and safe – start to 2009!

  1. Does This Wine Make Me Look Fat? (Part 1)
  2. Help! My Wife Only Drinks Bad Chardonnay! (3 Ways to Rescue Her from Wine Hell)
  3. 20 Things About Life I’ve Learned From Drinking Wine
  4. 5 Reasons Why Smoking Kills… Wine Appreciation
  5. 10 Free Wine Web Resources You Probably Aren’t Using
  6. Stop Picking on Robert Parker (The Subjectivity of Wine Ratings)
  7. Why Wine 2.0 Isn’t Quite Ready For Prime Time (Yet)
  8. A Turn on High Voltage Wines
  9. “No Shortcuts”: How Penns Woods Is Reinventing PA Wine from the Top Down
  10. “A Sense of Urgency”: The Reinvention of Opus One from the Ground Up

Cheers!
(images: hornblowerholidays.com, imdb.com)

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