...a way of seeing beyond inner and outer.

Friday, December 31, 2010


..are most often two dimensional treasure chests of eye glazing beauty no one I know can afford, rooms shined up in ways no real human being can maintain, craft projects that require staff and photos of women too thin to be women dressed in clothes designed to flatter the shapes of adolescent boys or genetically unusual girls who are too young to have the money to buy things like Gucci Techno Horsebit Flat Boots, the sort of footwear offered to us by the lovelies at Vogue ( greedy voice: yes, but they're black and black goes with eeeeeverything.  sane lucid voice: *cricket sounds *maternal "hell no" stink eye)
I believe a steady consideration of these magazines is psychological Russian roulette.  They can blow huge holes in your self-esteem if you let them.
I believe this. Wholly.  
Yet, this is my dining room table underneath a small gathering of what's on my bookshelf.

Knowing what I know, believing what I believe, why do I have so many of them? 
I have magazines because they are beautiful.  Period. They don't have to do anything else, but they do, at least for me they do.  They inspire.  
Even so, "no object is so beautiful that, under certain conditions, it will not look ugly." 
Thank you Oscar Wilde.

     In the case of my home, the ugly is found in the growing pile up reaching a near reality tv hoarding manifestation. Good for me" or "bad for me" has clarified into, "get rid of them". I've started culling them one page at a time. It's an exercise in self-discipline.  I will never use the recipe for honey comb that I started to tear out of an Oprah magazine.  I have people for that, the candy, not the tearing.  
    Everything I need is here. 

Thursday, December 30, 2010

New more want *wild eye salivation

I figured it out! I am a genius! It's not that I have overcome materialism, it's that my bar for greedy and unfulfillable consumerism wasn't neeeeeeeeearly high enough!  I just hadn't found anything unnecessary or expensive enough to excite the molecules in my empty wallet!    Today, I got my mojo back.   I want a 4500 MCG Series coffee system from HLF Italian Design. <== That's a link, in case you want to go to their website so you can pick out your own insane coffee producing products.  This coffee machine is so hip, it has its own music video.
 Giving is having!   *Muttley snicker

Cue the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey (and may I just say, that did not pan out at all, did it?)
And for the record, I promise, this was research for the book.  It's not like I want a new thing with a CORD!! last time I whine about cords,  promise.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Put a drain in the floor and we're in business.

Cheez&crackers, some of the stuff I do is so meaningless. I aspire to be at one with my fellow man and sit around the sustainable non-carbon emitting fire to sing kumbaya with all y'all, but stick me in the Ikea if I don't like some really shallow shine-o-la from time to time.  Beautiful shallow shine-o-la, well made shallow shine-o-la, expensive shallow shine-o-la, but shallow shine-o-la non-the-less
I give you, the clean kitchen.
by allmilmoe

I am smacking the greedy 7 year old who's looking at this, but this is a clean kitchen.     I wonder if, behind all that sleek I.talianness is six stacks of dirty dishes, coffee grounds, sticky hand prints and lumpy bits of kitchen machinery with CORDS? ( sorry.. i'm over it.)
     My sweet boy penguin brings me rocks with cords attached to them, and they do things in the kitchen.  I made that happen. I don't remember how, but I must have smiled too much at an ice shaver and not enough at an attempt at girly gifty goodness.  Aaaanyhoover, I want to hide all those cords.  This could work.

Non-alcoholic fizzy cocktails

In keeping with thought two and thought three while totally ignoring thought one from my Seussian post about not wanting want:
     2)there is no point to this post, nor must there be
     3)we have everything. so it's okay to have fun.  really. i promise.
For example, this little ether mote of utter ridiculousness.
Champagne cocktails for children who read Escoffier...
...or adults who do not want the empty calories, who may be driving, or who are averse to devil rum for any other reason tend to be  boring knock-offs of the real thing.  Don't get me wrong, when I fly, I ask for the can of bloody mary mix, but as I think of it, is that the best we can do when we're locked into an aluminum death tube breathing the same air as people with whooping cough? I know. I know. Safe. Safe.  Still.  Someone should tell the airline marketing department.
So yes. Thing..er.. thought 2 and thought 3.  Truisms, at least for the moment.  They're in a constant state of flux. but it's all okay, so fun should be had, alcohol or no alcohol.

a teaspoon of extremely good balsamic vinegar
(to do this right, you're going to pay four times more than think you should for vinegar)
a squeeze of fresh tangerine juice
sparkling water
twist of tangerine rind


Ginger ale and strongly brewed jasmine pearl tea
i owe you a pictures, but i drank it and an empty glass is just sad.
a piece of candied ginger


Floral syrup in sparkling water.
nada.  unless you happen to have candied rose petals, which I don't.
objects are tastier than they appear

So much for my self inflicted150 word limit  I wasn't as ready for brevity as I thought.  It hurts me.  Brevity.
Spartans, stoics, heroes, saints and gods use short and positive speech. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Want. I'm over it.

      I'm sort of tired of things, even experiential things, even beautiful things. They're everywhere I look, in magazines, on other people's ( beautiful ) blogs, in shop windows, in catalogs, on television. They're starting to put little pits of discontent in my life. 
     Why?  Because the nature of things, even exciting experiential things, even beautiful things, is that someone keeps making more.  So you look at your pile, then you look back at someone else's pile, and you think,
     "Their pile of beautiful things looks so much nicer than my pile beautiful things." 
"Their experiential things are so much more exciting than my experiential things."
They're all consuming, consumptive, temporary, illusory carrots on the end of the stick that is your life, and striving to acquire them is the other stick, you know, the one that smacks you in the face constantly.
     Hypocrisy alert:  I really like beauty. a. whole. lot. very. muchly.  I crave it, in fact. I also think I should  have/do/go to really exciting experiential things so I can talk about here, but once again, coming here, doing this has made me look at this experience ( the life one ) from the inside out and neither beauty nor exciting are enough for me any more, but at the moment, I don't know what is.  
     A few days ago I made a list of things I want to accomplish next year.  I'll do them because I said I would, or at least I'll try, and often times, I do things because I feel glad after I've done them, but I'm not excited about the prospect of doing them.  At night I do all the visualization you're supposed to do, you know, the one where you've already "done" whatever it is you intend to do. At night I do this and my thought is still "meh", but whatever.  
    Before you ask, I'm not depressed. I just don't see the point in 99 percent of the things we "strive" to do or get.  I'm thinking 
1) there is no point 
2) it doesn't matter that there's no point and 
3) right this minute, right this now, right this second, I still want very much to be a life. ( and no, in this case, that's not a typo). Life is deeply, richly, profoundly, unreservedly wonderful.  I have everything.
The only problem with the realization that you have everything is that you want nothing...
Now what?  
On second thought, I guess I do want something, I want a ru to help be.getme out of this gu.
"The syllable gu means shadows
The syllable ru, he who disperses them"
A few days of meditative reflection might be in order.
I apologize in advance if this confuses, offends, distresses or disgusts anyone, the thoughts, not the bubbles. If the bubbles confuse, offend, distress or disgust you, you too might want to take a few days to quietly mediate on... well, if I knew that I wouldn't need to do it myself.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Dragon Seals VI

      (This is little ongoing project I am enjoying. I hope you will too. Here is the table of contents page.)
       “It truly be.”
      “Where in the hell have you been?”
      Patter Vance only laughed at her outrage.
      “That’s my girl. First rattle out of the bag and she’s wound up like an eight-day clock. ”
      Aubrey met the last in a long line of much older men she’d used to act out better versions of childhood when Patter came to New York to speak at the International Symposium on the Arts. Unlike the earlier iterations he didn’t need or want sex with a young body to touch up his self-image.  All Patter offered was friendship and some sound advice she didn’t ask for but had the intelligence to recognize as such eventually.
          Her early memories of Patter were of a man who either had a cigar on the way into his mouth or the sound of West-by-God Virginia on the way out, too close to the sound of her own rural origins for her to feel anything but contempt for him. She was alone in that assessment. 
      The people involved in the business of buying and selling art called him the Molden Retriever. It was a commentary on his preference for pilled pullover sweaters, bucket hats and topsiders as much as it was on his uncanny ability to recover stolen art. He was good, maybe even the best there’d ever been but Aubrey hadn’t been impressed.
      Her interest in art was related to how regularly she was paid to model for people studying it, so he was no more than part of a dull evening to be endured as the price of dating one of his clients.  Her opinion of Patter fell even further the first time their host left the room for another bottle of wine.  Patter took his cigar from his mouth to asked her,
      “Why in the hell are you sleeping with that horny old toad? He’s too old for your mother, for chrissake.”
      She’s wanted to call Patter an asshole and tell him to mind his own damn business, but acting like a child would only have highlight the age gap between herself and the man who’d bought the diamond bracelett she was wearing so she’d tried dignified silence instead. 
      “If you’re going to sleep around find a man whose body is harder than his head. I can’t imagine him making way for you to form an opinion very often. And while we’re on the subject of heads, find a man that can get his up without a note from his doctor.  ”
       Even then she knew very clearly how over-matched she was but dignified silence wasn’t doing it for her.
      “No one asked for your opinion. You know jack shit about me and I’d be offended, but you’re clearly an idiot. “
          “This is coming from the genius who get’s paid to take off her clothes.  I know more about you than you think and you may not have asked for an opinion but it’s your lucky day because you’re getting a second one for free.  You don’t get paid enough to take off your clothes. You never will.”
          Aubrey had felt it was fair to return his evaluation with one of her own, which began with ‘fuck you’ and concluded with previously edited ‘asshole’.  In response, Patter laughed and made a phone call that altered the careening course of her life for the immeasurably better.  He called in a favor from Nick Bardi.
        Nick had been saved a great deal of very bad legal juju by Patter who’d recovered three Maxwell Parish murals that were stolen through an unsecured vent on the roof of di.  Nick couldn’t say no to Patter so Aubrey was paid three times the money she made as an artist’s model to pour wine and mingle with the gallery patrons because she had no other skills unless you counted the length of her legs.
      It was Patter who bullied her back to school, and insisted she demand something other than a line of credit from the men she allowed into her life.  He was the man who walked her down the isle when she married Conner.  When Conner was killed, it was Patter who stood with his arms around her as she poured dry lifeless ashes into the North Pacific Drift.  Even now, he still pushed her around when he thought she needed it, but years ago she’d begun to push back.
      “Patter, where in the hell have you been?  I was getting worried about you.”
      “Then pick up the phone when I call.”
      “Leave a damn message once in a while. God you’re irritating.” As much as she love him, he infuriated her constantly.
      “That’s how it happens. We all start talking to machines and the next thing you know they’ve taken over the planet.”
      “Yeah yeah.  Planet of the machines. Add inconsiderate to irritating. I’m serious.”
      “You always are.  So tell me, Miss Aubrey, late nights at the office or are you finally out whorin’ around?”
      “I’m whoring around of course.”
      “Liar. How’s my favorite fishwife?” 
      “You’re dodging.  Why the Houdini act?”
      “Couldn't be helped, but I’m headed your way.”
      “You’re headed here now?”
      “Yes, why?  You got company?”
      “The dogs don’t count.”
        “You are a hateful troll.  I’ve been trying to get in touch with you for weeks and I really was starting to worry.”
        “I’d feel worse about that if I didn’t know you worried about how pigs were treated before they were turned into bacon.”
       She let it go.  There was no point in trying to intimidate him into contrition or anything else.
      “Where are you?”
       “Honolulu International Airport so don’t bother putting on coffee for me just yet.”
      “I’m going to picture you in a coconut bra and flaming grass skirt. What’s are you doing in Hawaii?”
      “Connecting flight from Taiwan.  I’ve got something I want to talk to you about and you’re gonna have to shut up and listen.”
      “I’m really am abandoning all hope that you’re one of those people who will mellow with age.”
      After years of friendship with him, Aubrey was resigned to his sandpaper diplomacy but that didn’t mean she enjoyed it.
      “I’m just getting warming up.” He said, and meant it.
      “I feared as much.  This is me listening. What’s up?” She asked
      “Not going to happen, Miss Aubrey. I want you in front of me when I start arguing with you. Did you get my package?”
      “No, or I haven’t seen it yet, but that doesn’t mean it’s not here. What is it this time? A lovely pinot noir with a snake floating around the bottom?  Petrified dinosaur dung? A baggie of dirt?”
      “You have no sense of humor and no appreciation for minutia. That sand was from the banks of the Yamuna .  I’m sending you noodle shop tickets.  They’ll keep you humble..  ” 
      “I apologize.  How ungracious.  Oh my goodness, noodle shop tickets?! I can hardly wait!  Better?”
      “I live to serve. Since you already know we’re going to argue, we may as well get a head start.”
     “Can’t. I’ve got to conversate with the four-heads-full-of-simple government employees who’re riffling through my luggage like a herd of turtles. I’ll give you a call tomorrow when I get settled.” 
      Aubrey felt for the customs agent but had her own battles to fight with Patter. 
     “If this is a filibuster in the making, it will have to be late. My day is booked and I’ve got a dinner meeting.
          “Uh huh”
          “Deal. I can’t just drop everything because you decide to surface.”
          “Then those noodle tickets are just in time, Madame President.  I think they’ll help you clear your schedule for a while.  Gotta run.”
      And he was gone. She growled at the phone and looked at the clock.  

Sunday, December 26, 2010

2010: To honor in large groups.

      How many people really read CookedHeads? Who knows. I know my family does, but my family is one of the good ones. Everyone stands on the sidelines to cheer for each other's ambitions, big or small.
      Being a hard core professional geek, I know from experience how valuable performance statistics and analysis can be in nurturing a project but I won't use them here because the few times I have, I began to obsess about how to get you to give me something.  Yes, I want "followers". No that's not the point. In fact, it's the antithesis of what I intend.
     I love this little bit of cyber space. It consistently reminds me that I have everything I need. When I write each post, I try to imagine what would amuse you and how can I give you something. I already have plenty. This year in particular has given me personally so much to celebrate, even though "celebrate" is not a "me personally" word.
     It comes from the Latin word that basically means "to honor in large groups" so I guess I lied. I do want a small something from you.  I want to know what you honor in large groups because I want to be part of your large group. I want us to celebrate your life together. If this seems vague, it's intentionally so. If it seems weird, it probably is. I definitely am.
    Only you know what you honor in large groups.   Stop and think deeply, for you, not for me.  What have you been given that moves you to celebrate at the close of this year?
all y'all

Friday, December 24, 2010

Twelve Champagnes

Tina aka "The Party" 

My  tastings have matured into a few times, sometimes one “times” a month affairs where finesse is the dominant tool of tasting rather than a funnel.  Wouldn’t it be great if I could tell you how mature my tastes have become?  I’d be lying.  The Party left the building and cheap wine isn’t enough to hold my interest.
Something advertised as “Twelve Champagnes of Christmas” did, but as far as I'm concerned this sort of thing could be the "Twelve Champagnes of a Randomly Chosen Tuesday." This was a tasting of..anyone?  anyone? Yes a twelve champagne tasting hosted by a little treasure covey of oenophiles and other people with vices, HiTimes.  Go there. Tell them I sent you.  Watch them look at you like they have no clue who you I am.   No matter.  Tasting a dozen champagnes, the French kind, factually speaking, the only kind, infused me with self-importance.  Then again, maybe it was the bubbles (alert: pretentious insertion of a langue I do not speak ) et j’adore les bulles.

I wanted to pour out the $159.00 pour after the second taste. My palate isn't there yet.
No. 9 and No. 10 were my favorite. 

If you want to know more, thanks to the people at HiTimes,
From: Top
To: Bottom

From Left
To: Right
  1. Jean Milan 2006 $59.98: One of Champagne’s greatest producers of Blanc de Blancs, the estate of Jean Milan has had a Champagne make this “best of list” nearly every year for over a decade. This year, we are extremely delighted to offer an exciting, totally new creation from Jean Milan that you won’t find anywhere else. It is the first Brut Nature to be made exclusvely from Oger Chardonnay grapes. It is Caroline Milan’s desire to make Cuvée Transparence only once every 5 years as a sort of liquid time-lapse photograph of the state of her Grand Cru terroir. Made from two organically farmed plots (one tilled, one left with grass) Cuvée Transparence is aged under cork rather than capsule, riddled and disgorged by hand, and released with only two grams of residual sugar. Champagne authority Peter Liem notes: “It demonstrates the character of Oger in its combination of ripe, citrusy fragrance and stony chalkiness, and it conceals a hidden depth on the palate that could emerge further with time.” Transparence is an absolute must buy for those who prefer their Champagne very dry and relish the utmost in Côte des Blancs purity. Please note, to ward off any possible light damage the bottle is cloaked with black silk paper and Caroline recommends that it be kept in place until it is time to pop the cork.
  2. Agrapart 2004 $49.98: The high-achieving Agrapart brothers, Pascal and Fabrice, are known for their steadfast commitment to organic viticulture and the expression of their prime Côtes de Blancs terroir. The brother’s mission is probably best realized in their "Mineral" cuvée. It is made from 40-year-old Chardonnay vines in the vineyards of Le Champ Bouton in Avize (tank fermented) and Bionnes in Cramant (vinified in 600L casks), and it succeeds splendidly in expressing the chalky persona of the central Côte des Blancs. Whips of wisteria, apple sauce and wet stones distinguish its nose. High-toned with an active mousse in the mouth, this plushy textured Blanc de Blancs delivers focused pippin apple, lime and Meyer lemon flavors that give way to a long finish that is wrapped within a haunting limestone cloak. A great toasting Champagne and a fantastic mate for sashimi or other simply prepared seafood.
  3. Forest Mari

    è 2002 $45.98:

    Situated in Trigny, a village that shares the same Massif de St. Thierry terroir as our long-time favorite, Chartogne-Taillet, this house has quietly developed quite a following in France, culminating in some top accolades in the French press. When we were first introduced to the Champagnes of Forest-Marié, we couldn’t believe the breed and opulence these wines delivered at their incredibly modest prices. From the outstanding 2002 vintage, their Pinot Noir-based vintage wine—although priced like many other estates’ N.V. wine—is absolutely resplendent with the kind of richness, depth and grandiosity we associate with a substantially more expensive wine. A terrific segue to the glories of the 2002 vintage, and an absolute Best Buy.
  4. Monmarthe 2004 $35.98:

    Monmarthe, a small (13,000 case) grower-producer headquartered in Ludes (Montagne de Reims) is undoubtedly our value discovery of the year. This family-run firm has given us three ably-crafted Champagnes that are all priced well under the market. While Monmarthe’s Brut Secret de Famille and Brut Rosé de Ludes both deliver great bang for the buck, we feel their 2004 Millesime wins the value sweepstakes as it effortlessly holds its own against other vintage French Champagnes costing fifty dollars, and more, a bottle. It is made with Premier Cru rated fruit (60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir) and fermented without malolactic, bottled and then aged sur lattes for five years. This Monmarthe starts off with a pleasing fragrance suggestive of hazelnut, pear and white flowers while in the mouth it reveals graceful, yet well delineated flavors of pear, almonds, citrus and quince all dusted with a touch of chalk. Yet another illustration that “farmer fizz” can impress with finesse.
  5. Varnier Frannier NV $54.98:

    Last but not least, this Saint Denis cuvée hails from the famed Grand Cru village of Avize in the Côte des Blancs, the source of some of Champagne’s greatest Chardonnay. Importer Terry Theise calls this a “terroir-lover’s dream wine.” Why? Because this wine, like so many of the other estate-bottled Champagnes that Terry imports, comes from a distinct place, a terroir-- in this case, a single walled vineyard in Avize called Clos du Grand Pere. It is an absolutely singular and authentic portrait of its place, Terry notes: “...empire-apple, graphite, cardamom and cinnamon, and a precise acorny length almost like Jamon Bellota.” A unanimous staff favorite as well a top vote-getter at The Hi-Time Wine Bar, this Blanc de Blancs was recently-awarded 92 points from both The Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator.
  6. Pierre Peters: 2002 $94.98 Year in and year out, this is one of the greatest wines produced in Champagne—at any price. And although this wine is still something of a well-kept secret, its provenance is not. From the legendary village of Le Mesnil sur Oger, origin of the ultra-premium rarities Salon and Krug’s Clos de Mesnil, iconic grower Pierre Peters produces the Cuvée Speciale, a single vineyard wine from Chétillons, an ideally situated site planted with 75-year-old Chardonnay vines. The previous (2000) vintage was awarded an incredible 95-point score from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, and this successor is an even richer, more profround Champagne with a broad mineral core and a finish that is nothing short of amazing. This was a clear standout among more than 90 excellent Champagnes at Terry Theise’s annual portfolio tasting this past October, and was, therefore, an obvious choice for this top slot.
  7. Andrè Clouet NV $37.98:A favorite Champagne of the Swedish Royal Family, André Clouet is a 250-year-old family firm that produces an elegant non-vintage Blanc de Noirs from 100% Grand Cru Pinot Noir sourced from the Montagne de Reims, Grand Cru village of Bouzy. Thanks to an ancestral land grant from Napoleon, Jean-Francois Santz-Clouet has the privilege of working with some of the best-situated vines on the sweeping slopes of what is arguably Champagne’s most lauded village for Pinot Noir. Occasionally compared to Bollinger—some of whose best vineyard sites abut those of Clouet—this is a firm, masculine, biscuity Champagne of finesse and breed with a quality level rarely seen in non-vintage Brut. In fact, we think it clearly bests the much pricer Bollinger Brut Special. Aged on the lees for a remarkable six years (perhaps Krug is the only other producer to do this with their NV), this is a truly stunning example of red grape Champagne and a breathtaking value as well.
  8. Henri Goutorbe 2002 $69.98:When you see a bottle of Champagne in the distinctive, antique-style Special Club bottle, the least you can be assured of is that you are in the presence of the tête de cuvée from one of Champagne’s best recoltant-manipulant (grower producers). In this case, the prestige bottling from Henri Goutorbe in the famous Grand Cru village of Aÿ (pronounced: ah-ee). Comprised of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay from the superb 2002 vintage, this wine is a drop-dead show-stopper that was a standout at a recent Hi-Time Wine Bar Champagne shootout. Importer Terry Theise puts it best: “This is class among 2002s, which is already class among vintages, and I can barely remember offering any Champagne more stunning than this.” And to get a tête de cuvée of this caliber from a top grower for under $70? Simply a no-brainer.
  9. Camille Savès 2002 $59.98:Though the Savés family has been producing Champagnes in the Grand Cru village of Bouzy since the end of the 19th century, we feel that this formidable 2002 could well be their best effort ever. The blend is comprised of 80% Pinot and 20% Chardonnay all from their best parcel of mature (35+ years old) vines. The family eschews malolactic fermentation, a policy that adds cut and definition to what clearly is one of the most full-framed and impressive 2002s we have encountered. Scents of Queen Anne cherry, red apple and bread crust rise from the glass. The fresh, brisk palate is more intense than rich as it showcases a bright fruit profile that includes beams of tart cherries, red apples, apricot and sourdough notions that carry on and on. We should mention that the half-opened bottle we polished off the next day seemed even more nuanced and luxuriant- a sure sign that this dynamo will cellar extremely well.
  10. Duval Leroy 1996 $59.98:We thought this gem was really but a memory of Christmas past, but luck was with us and we have managed to snag a small parcel so that you can have one last chance to savor this classic ’96. As most of you know, 1996 in Champagne is a watershed vintage of towering quality marked by a singular combination of high acidity and full ripeness. True to its birthright, this Duval Leroy is still fresh and racy while it has developed overtones of toasted wheat, almonds and carob-- the sort of wonderful hallmarks one looks for in a great Champagne approaching maturity. In truth, we would have placed this Duval Leroy much higher on this list had our inventory been greater.
  11. Henriot 1996 $159.98 :The 1995 Enchanteleurs sole the show at our annual Tête de Cuvée tasting last December, so we were understandably primed for the release of its successor which, of course, hails from an even more august vintage. Well after a decade on the lees and four more years aging on the cork, the 1996 Enchanteleurs has finally arrived. To say it was worth the wait is putting it mildly. This Champagne masterfully juxtaposes highly kinetic fruit, mineral and spice flavors with a rock solid undercarriage.Wine Spectator editor Bruce Sanderson’s enthusiastic take runs: “Tight-grained, with an immediate impression of the sea before forest floor and citrus notes take over. This is bright and fresh, with plenty of spice, toast and candied berry flavors, backed by a firm structure. The finish just keeps going. Best from 2012 through 2040…97 Points.” While admittedly very spendy, this Henriot is one luxury Champagne that truly delivers the extraordinary experience it promises.
  12. Diebolt Vallois NV $41.98:This is just the second rosé that this famed Côte des Blancs estate has made since 1985. Though quite sleek and poised as one would expect from a Jacques Diebolt Champagne, we were surprised and very pleased by how much woodsy red berry fragrance and flavor this Brut Rosé possessed. To our mind, too many rosé Champagnes, with the exceptions of a tinge of color and higher price, are virtually indistinguishable from their white stablemates. Based predominately on the 2007 vintage, this Brut Rosé is composed of roughly two-thirds Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier from Epernay and one-third Chardonnay from Cuis, with ten percent Pinot Noir wine from Bouzy imparting its cherry coloration. With all his success working with Chardonnay it is nice to see Jacques work his magic with red grapes and give us this very distinctive and delicious rosé Champagne.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"Cheese eating surrender monkey" --Grounds Keeper Willie

This made it past my junk mail filter. 

En raison de la congestion de tous les utilisateurs de Windows et l'enlèvement de tous les comptes inutilisés Windows Live Hotmail,  Windows serait obligé de fermer votre compte, vous devrez confirmer votre e-mail en remplissant vos informations de connexion ci-dessous . Au cas où le formulaire n’est pas totalement rempli votre compte sera  suspendu dans les 72 heures pour des raisons de sécurité.

I can't really say that I blame my junk mail filter.
 Phishing is so much nicer in French.  *sigh
My baby brother.  Not French.
Fish. Not Phish.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dragon Seals V

(This is little ongoing project I am enjoying. I hope you will too. Here is the table of contents page.)
 Sean wrapped his arms around Aubrey and they quietly held each other.
“Think about it,” he said as she slid into the seat.
“Yes. Yes. I promise. Go home and kiss your girls for me.”
She didn’t like to admit it, even to herself, but Sean had made an accurate assessment of her life.  She knew she was still living in her marriage to Conner.  It made her sympathetic to what it must be like for his parents, no matter how she felt about them as people. The Hales didn’t generally make concessions without an ulterior motive, but Aubrey though it likely that their longing to hold on to a piece of their son might be behind their offer. Legacies aside, Conservator was a company worth acquiring, but that wasn’t enough to explain why the board at HWS would agree to make the investment. Aubrey thought if anything the people responsible for tending the balance sheets would have had even less interest in the art transportation business now than when Conner had started the company. There were more headaches now.
Monetary regulations aimed at controlling the flow of funds to and from terrorist states had spilled over into the commerce of art.  Stolen art was being exchanged as a currency of sorts for illegal trade in everything from children to weapons.   As collateral on the black market, the going rate for stolen art was ten percent of the insurance value, when that information was available.
 Museum budgets were heavily weighted on the acquisition end rather than the security end, so a thief didn’t have to be extremely clever to drive away with millions of dollars in collateral.  In 2004, thieves had only had to be smart enough to lean a ladder against a wall.   Two men entered a second story window in the middle of the day to take two Edvard Munch paintings, including “The Scream”.  This was the second time poor security rather than criminal genius was responsible for the theft of that particular painting. The first time it had been stolen, in that case, from the National Museum, the thieves had gone so far as to leave a polite note that read:
“Thank you for the poor security”
In both cases, the painting had been recovered, but it’s hard to fence a national treasure like “The Scream”. Had the thieves been smart enough to take a lesser-known work they could have leveraged a twenty five million dollar painting into two point five million dollars. These facts make handling art a numerically high risk to low reward ratio business and HWS was not the sort of company to walk into this fray.
Whatever the motive for the offer, she decided not to waste any more mental energy thinking about it; she was going to need her full compliment of that resource to solve the more immediate problem of the Italian shipment. She set her jaw and dialed Dena Sanders.
If Aubrey had ever seriously thought someone should have a stiletto planted in their person, it would have been someone like Dena.
“Hello?”  Aubrey heard the sounds of a party behind the shrill voice on the phone. No doubt it was a magazine perfect affair, but the evening’s primary appeal for Dena would be the nasty bits of gossip she might pick up along her way to her next husband.
 “Dena, hon, issat you? It’s Aubrey Hale. I am so sorry for callin’ you this late at night.  It’s awful of me, I know, ‘specially ‘cause I’m fixin’ to ask you for such uh huge favor.”
          When she had left home to go to college, Aubrey had added back all the dropped consanants and cleaned up the syrupy twang that was the natural accent of Uncertain, Texas, a small town hugging the land around Caddo Lake and the border between Texas and Louisiana. But she still knew how to pull off a drawl when it proved to be useful, and was one of those occasions, though not for the usual reasons.
      The sound of it would gall Dena, a woman who’d earned more than a little discomfort, in Aubrey’s view.  But the woman had a gallery specializing in Cartoni and scores of contacts with Italian exchanges.
    Cartoni, artistic plans dating back to the Italian renaissance, had become a commodity in a niche market. Few of the fresco cartoons had survived, because the paper was pressed into wet plaster with a stylus, then punctured so outlines could be left in charcoal dust. When she wasn’t hunting the next financial portfolio in pants, Dena made a comfortable living trading in the smaller surviving variety of Cartoni.  One man’s scratch pad was another woman’s day job.
“Aubrey, dear.  How unpleasant.  What can I do for you, besides teach you to speak your own language? The name of a good stylist perhaps?”   Clearly, Aubrey’s dislike was reciprocated.
 “You are a perennial delight, Dena, truly.”
“Shall we get to the point? What ever can I do for you?”
“Exercise some professional courtesy when I bring Neil Abbot to your gallery. You’ll be doing yourself a favor if you can swing it, not that you need any encouragement on that front.” 
All the false charm was gone from Aubrey’s tone, but she left insults out of her response, or at least she tried. That level of restraint bordered on an accomplishment.
On the other end, there was only background chatter while Dena decided how badly she wanted to have Neil’s business. Capitalism in interesting times won out over pride and the party noise ended with the closing of a door.
“What do you want?”
“A phone number.  I need a good contact in Italy, someone with pull at the Roman terminal.  We have a shipment that’s hung in transit.”
“How do you know Neil Abbot? “
“Do you want me to bring him to the gallery or not?  If you don’t want the bone, someone else will.”  It was tempting to extend the metaphor to the obvious insult, but death by paper cut was more Aubrey’s style.
“What I don’t want is to give you the number and find out you don’t have Neil Abbot.  I’ll give you the number when you bring him into my gallery.”
“Which doesn’t work for me.  Goodnight, Dena. “
“I need the number now and I doubt even someone with your special sort of tact would think it was a stoke of genius to drag Neil out of bed for a shopping spree. Either give it to me or I’m going to solve this another way.”
“Fine.  It’s on my phone so I’ll have to call you back with the number.”
“And then I’ll bring Neil in next week.“ 
Aubrey didn’t end the conversation with pleasantries and sent the return call directly to voice mail. 
The evening left her feeling scraped and abraded in a way the long day at Conservator hadn’t, but the deadline for the Asian Museum project’s completion was a month away and, provided it went well, there would be other projects from other museums. Then what?  She thought of Sean’s offer again and let it linger a few minutes before she pushed it out of her mind. The endlessness of it all didn’t escape her but she wasn’t done for the night. 
She stopped in at the firehouse so Pam, the housekeeper, dog nanny and all around godsend could go home to her own family. Aubrey’s plan was to pack a bag and grab the dogs before heading to the office.
Despite Sean’s take on it, the apartment at Conservator was not a cot in a closet.  She and Conner had lived there while the firehouse was being remodeled, but it wasn’t home any more and she missed the comforts of familiarity.  She decided to take a quick shower in her own bathroom.  It evolved into a quick nap in her own bed.
          When the phone rang hours later, she looked at the clock and groaned.
          “Well, here’s Johnie.“
Aubrey took a second longer than usual to understand the greeting. Her brain was dulled by sleep and the ongoing conflict between one scotch and several glasses of wine, but when she realized what she’d heard, she knew who was on the other end of the line. There were a handful of people knew her first name was Johnie, but only one who regularly used it to annoy her.


A few days ago, I wondered out loud about the rest of the year .   
This morning I moved from wonder to decide.
For the rest of this year, I'm going to get ready for the rest of next year.

1)     Eat every meal with an imaginary French friend, the one with the body I want to have. 
2)     Move in such a way as to exercise for thirty minutes every day without noticing it is exercise.
  • Dance with my dog, 
  • Go see something on my bicycle
  • Walk on the beach.
  • Window shop in South Coast Plaza. (Turn your speakers on and follow the clue below.)
All bets are off after the end of the year.  Gimme a break. It's a holiday website.

3)     Finish my book
4)     Connect.  
  • Tell stories. 
  • Listen to people about what they see.
  • Go to Texas for my parent's 40th anniversary.  (uh.maaaaaa.zing!)
  • Figure out how to get my imaginary French friend connected with my real cousin and my real cousin's real daughter, who happens to be my imaginary French friend's real Australian stylist.  

5)     Reconstruct my visual template…   …ebay my way farther from clutter and 
closer to
Starting with cookedheads.com

6)     Learn to talk to my imaginary French friend.

That’s plenty.