Thursday, April 30, 2009

Three For Thursday: Author Videos

First, two book trailers:

For Sophie Littlefield's upcoming debut novel, A Bad Day for Sorry:




And Louise Ure's latest, Liar's Anonymous:






Then, not embeddable but worth watching, Terry Pratchett's acceptance for the LA Times book award for Nation. Comes with bonus cat!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Pointless Gadget of the Day

Know someone who follows the stock market a little too closely? Want to kill them? Have I got the gift item for you:



The Ambient Orb. Turns red, yellow or green depending on the direction the market is moving. Perfect for the person who likes checking on the Dow every thirty seconds but finds opening their browser too labor-intensive.

Other options include weather and pollen forecasts, for people who want to know in advance how much they are going to be sneezing. One can only assume that a blue/red model will be available in time for the next presidential election.

Monday, April 27, 2009

If It's This Cute, It Has to Be Japanese

It's Monday, and do you know what you need? You need to watch a cat faceplant into a box:





(From Cute Overload, of course.)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

I Will Never Look At a Smiley Face the Same Way Again




I can't exactly reproduce the sound I made when I first saw this, but it was something like Ewwerrrargh.
On the plane, about to leave Cincinnati. Considered local chili for lunch, but decided against, due to 5 hour plane ride.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

By the way, anyone know how tonights Idol went? The very idea of disco night scares me.
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Friday, April 17, 2009

Final Post About That One Wine-Tasting Trip And Then I Will Get Back To Videos And Kittens And Shoes And Stuff, I Swear

It was supposed to be a day trip. The idea was, we'd drive out to Lodi (stop me if you've heard this one) try some stuff, get dinner and drive back. Only, the thing was, we were about sixty miles up into the mountains, it was dark, the car was low on gas and neither of us was in very good condition to drive. So the day trip turned into an overnight visit.

For what appears to be a tourist town, Murphys has a surprising shortage of lodging. But, after a certain amount of wandering, we found ourselves at the pleasant if redundantly named Murphys Inn Motel, which has rooms with their own bathrooms and satellite TV, which made it a winner.

There's a certain adventuresomeness and romanticism in having a day trip wander on through the weekend, but there is also a lack of things like toothbrushes and extra clothes. Fortunately, thanks to my alcohol-burnished shopping trip, I had a lovely new blue dress to wear. Which was perhaps a little bit dressy for a day in the foothills, but what the heck. There are people in the world who wear pretty dresses all the time, just like regular clothes; why shouldn't I be one of them?

Nothing doing on the toothbrush front, though. You probably didn't need to know that.


After breakfast we wandered a few more miles up the road (in the car; we're not crazy) and found a town that still had snow on the ground and the presumptive "highest winery in California." (They aren't sure, but they think that 3300 feet is enough for the title.) Then it was back down towards the valley, and through one of the best-named towns in California. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you: Copperopolis.

Isn't it fun to say? Copperopolis, Copperopolis, Copperopolis. Everyone together, on three: one. . . two. . . three. . . Copperopolis!

It's a wonder Cameron didn't just leave me at the side of the road.


Ironic postscript about wine and snobbery:

Do you remember what I said at the beginning of this particular saga, about the wine that brought us to the Lodi region in the first place? It was a viognier from a place called Loredona, for which I couldn't find anything in the way of a tasting room, or even a vineyard. But I did find that it was associated with a Clay Station, which was in turn associated with a place in Manteca. Which turned out to be the Delicato Family Vineyards, one of the biggest of the big factory winemakers in the Central Valley.

Yep, that's us. Cutting-edge culinary adventurers. Sigh.

Why Does This Even Exist?

I seriously don't get the seventies. Is it because I've never done drugs?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Feminist Humor? Not An Oxymoron!

Haven't had much interest in Current so far, but this is pretty funny. Note: contains some language.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Murphys: The Town, Not the Soap. Also Not Lodi.

After escaping the clutches of the giant winery of scariness, we continued down Six Mile Road which, after a total distance of about six miles, deposited us in the town of Murphys.

The first thing you should know about Murphys is that it is almost impossibly cute, in a very California way (non-coastal division). By which I mean tiny, with extremely historic buildings dating all the way back to the late nineteenth century (including the early home of a Nobel Prize winner) and the generally laid-back air that comes with a population that includes a certain number of residual hippies. The second thing you should know is that there are nineteen tasting rooms on the three blocks that constitute the downtown.

It was at about this time that we decided to stay for dinner. And, since we were staying for dinner, that meant that I wouldn't have to be driving for a while, which meant I could take seriously the business of tasting.

It's a funny thing about tasting wine-- each one they give you is only a little bit, but they keep giving them to you. And, if one hasn't had anything to eat since a half-sandwich at lunchtime, one can get toasted in rather short order.

We didn't try all the wineries, of course. It was already late afternoon, and even we aren't that dedicated. But we did make it to a few, including one that was rather strenuously quirky (directions on their wine club form included: "Dress like a naughty pirate! Send us pictures!) but had some pretty decent wine, a couple of average/unexciting places and one that we liked quite well. Well enough to buy several bottles and join their wine club, anyway.

While C. was settling up with them, I slipped* off to check out a couple of boutiques I had noticed, because that is simply my nature. And, to paraphrase a line from an award-winning story by my close personal friend, Author Cornelia Read: I love shopping drunk. It's so easy.

In the end, I came away with a couple of necklaces and a rather lovely blue dress.


We had gotten a recommendation for a restaurant in town which was not only good, but reportedly did not charge a corkage fee if you brought in a bottle of local wine. Which turned out to be true on both counts.

*Not literally.**
**But I totally would have, if there was anything to slip on.

Was Sesame Street Always This Hip, And I Just Didn't Notice?

It's possible. I really wasn't that plugged in to the indie music scene when I was four. Anyways, here's Feist performing a version of her hit song/iTunes jingle, and it's kind of awesome:



(But, scandal! Where is The Count?)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Testing my ability to post from my phone. Please ignore this post.

What I Have Realized

It really shouldn't take two weeks for me to write up a daylong driving trip. But it does. So, there you go.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Not Lodi, Part Two: The Part Where We Don't Go to Lodi

So, we were driving. And we drove, and then we drove some more. And the scenery was lovely, what I could see of it when I wasn't focusing on the road, but curiously devoid of vineyards. In fact, it was devoid of just about anything, except for the occasional cow and signs advertising well-digging services. We were somewhat concerned, but it was a nice day and heck, we had come this far. So we drove on, past towns so tiny they made Two Rock look like a major metropolis*, through increasingly steep terrain that remained resolutely free of any form of wine grapes, into Calaveras County, a place made famous by a fictional bar bet involving frogs.

We were starting to wonder if Weird Guy had in fact been Humorously Malicious Guy, when Murphys showed up on a road sign, just before the sign that noted that Highway 4 was closed at Ebbet's Pass. So, reassured that this place, whatever it was, did exist, we pressed on, and were rewarded by something we hadn't seen in a while: a sign for a winery. Which was encouraging, since this was originally intended to be a wine-tasting trip.

The sign pointed us down something called Six Mile Road, to a small winery in an absolutely lovely little valley. The wines themselves were slightly less lovely, inasmuch as they seemed to be trying to kill us with tannins. Also, in the interests of randomness, it turned out that the place was owned by a Hollywood producer who had made, among other things, the TV show "The Young Riders," which I had an inexplicable fondness for back in high school.

From there, we continued down Six Mile Road (after briefly mistaking it for a driveway), towards a place that had been mentioned to us a couple of times (Ironwood or Ironstone-- Ironsomthing, anyway), passing some wild turkeys and a barrel-toasting place and giving my little Mazda its first taste of dirt-road driving on the way. Which is partly why we were so taken aback when we got there and discovered the place was a massive complex with a parking lot like an amusement park. We drove in, saw the busloads of elderly tourists, said almost simultaneously, "I don't want to stop here," and drove on.


*This is humorous exaggeration. Nothing could make Two Rock look like a major metropolis.

Am I Dreaming?

Or is this Neil Patrick Harris on Sesame Street, dancing and singing about shoes?




I'm dreaming, aren't I?

Monday, April 06, 2009

The Lodi That Wasn't

Well, it was supposed to be Lodi.

Last Saturday we went to go wine tasting in Lodi, inspired by a tasty yet affordable viognier from the area that has become kind of our house (okay, apartment) white. I scoped out their tourism website, wrote down the directions (because my printer is out of color ink and I am dammed if I can figure out how to tell it to print in grayscale), and headed east. We stopped first at the visitor center, which had the unfortunate characteristic of being the only place we stopped where they charged us for a tasting, even though we bought something, but did provide fully printed maps. Then, because all of the vineyards we could see around us appeared to be of the vast, corporate variety*, we made for the hills.

The first place we stopped was at a crossroads, options east and north, where an enthusiastic but somewhat weird winemaker sold both his wines and those of a business partner of some sort. This was the first place we came across what would become a theme: Spanish and Portuguese variatals like grenache and tempranillo and graciano (have they become fashionable? why does no one tell me these things?). We enjoyed the wines, so we bought some (this would become another theme), but the guy was off-putting enough that we skipped joining his wine club.

As we were getting ready to leave, we asked about what sort of luck we would have looking for wineries further up the road. Weird guy said, indeed, there were a lot of wineries up there, especially around a town called Murphys. The fact that for a while he could not remember the name of said town should probably have provided us with something like a clue. But it didn't.

So, clueless, we backtracked a bit to a place we had passed that advertised barbecue (excuse me, I mean "BBQ") and had that icon of California cuisine, the tri-tip sandwich. (Which was very good, but not a patch on Lombardi's.)

The plan for the afternoon was to head up the road, try out a few places and then come back to the places in town. That wasn't exactly how the day went.

[To be continued. . .]


*The irony of this will be addressed later.