Holy Wine Wars (Part Dieu)

Recently, we took a close look at some infamous Wine War rivals vying for your vinological investment. However, sometimes it takes a cool-headed mediator rather than a “stable genius” to bring opposing parties to the table for reconciliation in the time-honored spirit of rapprochement.*

Just for safety’s sake, though, we’re keeping these two on separate racks.

*rapprochement, comes from the French word rapprocher (“to bring together”) meaning a re-establishment of cordial relations, as between two countries…or two theological wine factions. Just thought I’d save you the trouble of looking it up.

It’s all about angle and light

My evil HOA decided to chop down a perfectly good 40-foot pine tree a week ago. They said it was a hazard, based on the fact that a similar tree that was situated on irrigated, stony ground was felled by a summer monsoon. I consulted my own certified arborist who advised that the tree was just fine–just needed a good trimming to make it less of a windblock during a storm.*

Now, in addition to killing a living tree that had been minding its own business for 20 to 25 years (based on the ring count), this lovely tree provided a nice shading effect for my south-facing pool window. The only plus I can think of is that the 10am sunlight pouring through the window gave me the following photo opportunity.

What a difference a simple change of angle and sun (and a healthy zoom lens) can make!

*One resident wrote an email to the HOA property manager in what can only be imagined as a sarcastic tone the manager apparently missed completely: “To be completely safe, how about just cutting down all the trees in the community?” (There are 31 good-sized trees in the HOA area).



Holy Wine Wars

Can’t we all just get along? Apparently the divisiveness that is plaguing America the last couple years has alarmingly spread to the world of wine like a wild fire.

(click on pix to enlarge)

Specifically, take a look at how these forces of good and evil are lining up against each other in an apocalyptic vinological smackdown.

Let’s look at the blessed side first.

Our Daily Red (far left): Matthewy notes with structured tones of manna, coriander seed and honey.

Pontificis: clerical palate with hints of incense and the herb-forward aroma of Brother Juniper and black pepper with a not-too-molest’y finish

St. Somewhere: Fruity, bright and approachable, with hospital notes but not too medicine’y…perhaps a bit too approachable?

Now, on the…shall we say, less-blessed team:

Il Brutto: Primativo based on practically raw under-fermented grapes that make you want to call out “Et tu!”

Handsome Devil (above): Malbec with more than a bit of attitude, rather fond of its plum notes and wine-about-town-finish.

Girl & Dragon (above): another malbec, fresh and fragrant owing to a pleasant underlying acidity which lends it vigor and persistence on the palate.

Alas for the blessed ones, the darksiders, like some WWE tag team have scrambled in a reinforcement to tip the scales:

Troublemaker (red blend): Complete absence of mango, lemon, buttery almond and Fuji apple.

But what’s this? Santa Maria red altar wine from the renowned Iowa grape-growing terroir—home of “valid” sacramental wines. Apparently the heavenly choirs (or choir boys) have their own ringer. Somehow this just doesn’t seem like they’re playing fair!








But now the apostates have their own ringer in the form of…

Lazy Bones: Cabernet Franc – blending a slothful cabernet sauvignon that simply can’t decide if it even wants to register on the palate with ne’er-do-well merlot that finishes haphazardly in the Bordeaux style.

And ruh roh: now The Velvet Devil appears in the garden to lure you into experiencing classic peach and apricot flavors along with the slate and chalk of the soil. What! No apple notes?Hold on though, Sacred Vine blasts back with its Ashwaubenon, Wisconsin-bred zinfandel. (Honing in on the communion wine market niche, the public can also buy unconsecrated bottles.)

And get ready for some hearty Old Testament fear and trembling with New Zealand’s Prophecy, offering a palate of earth, knotty leather and deep-woods tart cherry.With these contenders fighting it out like some ill-boding Patmos*-inspired doomsday scenario, what’s a peace-loving wine lover to do to?

Stop the fighting! JV Estates: Chateau La Feet to the rescue: the grapes were nurtured somewhere between the sands of Saudi Arabia and the dry washes of Arizona. Hints of cherry, asparagus, chocolate and la connerie— makes a wonderful pairing with Fried Bologna Surprise.**  

* For you bible-illiterates, John of Patmos (St. John the theologian) is said to have written his Book of Revelations on this island in the Aegean.
** The recipe can be found in Stories I Never Told My Family.
Note on the wine notes: Much of the delightful descriptive verbiage is taken directly from actual printed wine note blathering liberated from Ground Control (Litchfield Park, AZ); Direct Cellars; and Toasted Cork (Scottsdale)though not necessarily from any of their wines. And, of course, much of it is simple parody.

On the road again?

My workplace requires everybody to fill out an annual trip reduction survey. While the survey is reasonable and only takes about 5 minutes, I find it’s far more interesting to browse through the dropdown menus it provides to locate your driving startpoint.

Here are some interesting results I discovered, mostly all in the Phoenix metro area. I supplied city or township names where I recognized them.

  1. Bethany Home Rd. – central Phoenix, named after an early 19th century tuberculosis health clinic
  2. Big Bug Wash — mining camp road near Bloody Basin
  3. Bloody Basin Rd. — north of Phoenix on I-17 near Black Canyon City, named after an 1873 bloodbath between U.S. Army soldiers and a band of Apaches
  4. Bong Lane — Glendale (named after WWII ace Richard Bong)
  5. Broken Arrow
  6. Broken Ear Rd — Chandler
  7. Broken Spear — Prescott
  8. Cholla St. (a sure way to see if someone is a newcomer: if they say “chawla” instead of “choy-yah” you know they’re a dang Easterner)
  9. Coachwhip
  10. Dancing Bears Court — Fountain Hills
  11. Dead Trespassers Trail — Cave Creek
  12. Dealer Dr. (I’d love for this to intersect Bong Lane, but unfortunately it’s simply a small road off the I-10 in Avondale that services several auto dealerships)
  13. Deep Grass
  14. Divot Dr. — Tempe (presumably near a golf course)
  15. Down Over There
  16. Dreamy Draw Dr. — Phoenix. The neighborhood street near Aunt Chiladas Squaw Peak (renamed Piestewa Peak) is named after the DD hills which surround the base of 2,608-foot Piestewa Peak, a few blocks east of my humble abode. The name was coined in the early 20th century to describe the area where miners spent long and arduous days hunting for copper. “It was said that the miners in this area would leave and be in a dreamy state so they were coming back from the Dreamy Draw.”






17. Druids Glen Rd. — Queen Creek (I guess the apostrophe is optional with street names in QC)

18. Dull Knife

19. Dusty Coyote

20. Easy St. — Carefree (where else?) It’s basically an ultra-luxury condo community

21. Eddie Albert Way — Goodyear (not to be confused with Eddie Albert Rd. in Twentynine Palms, CA)

22. Flaming Arrow

23. Gnat Catcher

24. Hash Knife Draw

25. Humbug Mine

26. Indian School Rd (named after a territorial-era school, and in my opinion, “the most interesting street in Phoenix”…a category I invented)

27. Lobster Trap Lane — Tempe (this is right next to my old homestead on Driftwood Dr. at The Lakes…the first artificial lakes development in the area)

28. Mummy Mountain Rd. — Paradise Valley (Az Republic columnist Clay Thompson says the landmark mountain should have been named ‘The Big Drab Lump of Rocks Mountain.’)

29. Nasty Basin

30. Normal

31. Old Beau

31. Przewalski St. (Queen Creek/San Tan Valley) — I just like hearing people try to pronounce it. It intersects Ocotillo (OcoTILLoh if you’re from Ohio, where they also pronounce Rio Grande as “RYO-grande,” Cairo as “KAY-ro,” and Dayton as “DIEt’n”)

32. Whalers Cove (not a lot of ‘em around here, I’ll wager)

33. Whistling Wind

34. Why Worry Lane — central Phoenix…just down the street from me

35. Wind Drift

36. Window Rock

37. Windy Walk (actually there are 27 “wind” names in the area)

Honorable Mentions

  • Bucket of Blood, Holbrook
  • Ho Road & Hum Road, Carefree
  • Manlove Street, Tucson (Samuel A. Manlove, a homesteader, miner, and editor of a Tucson newspaper.)
  • Toughnut Street, Tombstone
  • Apache Trail – AZ Route 88 — Be prepared for some white-knuckle driving as you wind around the Superstition Mountains on the 1¾-lane cliffside trail from Tortilla Flat (pop. 6) enroute to Roosevelt Lake and Globe.

“Why Worry” road sign and both Dreamy Draw photos © 2017, 2018 Jim Veihdeffer

Phoenix Gears Up for Halloween

Looks like the city of Phoenix is getting its street signs spiffed up for Halloween!






Oooooh, scary!

But that’s not all that’s going on around here that doesn’t quite…um…feel right. Like there might be invisible presences.

Take this chair, setting off by itself in a big vacant lot, apparently unoccupied.

Here’s a closer view. You can almost make out a figure resting comfortably with “its” feet out.







And then there’s this ghostly presence out by the canal.

Here’s a closer look. Notice the complete lack of any human form in the strange shadow. In all my daily bike rides along the canal, I’ve never seen a human using this chair.


But wait…here’s a separate chair positioned against a canal-side fence. Trust me, it’s a different chair with its own ghoulish shadow.

While we’re checking spooky canal items, check this verrrrry strange deposit, clearly not something a human would mess with. (Well, OK, a human other than me.)

As you can imagine, we approached it cautiously

…and discovered a bizarre collection of two dozen cheap orange and blue BIC razors, cotton balls, a single AA battery, some white plastic wrist rings, the cap of a toothpaste tube (or alien torture device), misc. faded receipts and an instruction manual for an extraterrestrial-looking “OptiChamber Diamond anti-static valved holding chamber.” Yes, but holding exactly what!?






Up the street is the neighborhood McDonald’s…

No! Just kidding!…that’s the McDonald’s I used to frequent in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia when I got tired of shawarmas.


But this little fella on the right is a genuine unretouched shot from a Scottsdale McDonald’s.


Looks pretty clean. I wonder if it uses razor blades in bulk.

More quirky words you may not need

I’ve had enough of politics for the day so here are some fun/not-fun words from my bulging file of “Words You May Be Hearing These Days….But Wish You Hadn’t.”

As many of you know, I collect words like some people collect butterflies or old typewriters This set is mostly new to me but there are a few old faves that you might like to know about, even if you don’t have occasion to use (and in some cases, better that you don’t)

 Here we go…

turnt  (adj): excited, having a really good time, possibly with the help of alcohol or drugs (Macmillan). Meanwhile from Urban Dictionary: a variation of “turned” used only to describe when someone is excessively excited or prepared for the current event. In it’s entirety, it can commonly be seen used as turnt up,” as in “turned up.” (heard on Trevor Noah’s The Daily Show)

bumps (noun) short clips of music used by podcasts and radio shows as signature or theme music to buffer transitions between programming elements. Also “bumper music” or “bumps.”

onion (noun): an ethnic/racial barb for Armenian immigrants (see Rescued reference, below). Like most ethnic terms, not to be used lightly or by those outside the group. “You know, I only let my friends call me onion. And even then I ain’t so sure I like it” (p.12). Onions are a staple of Armenian cuisine but we can probably do without more ethnic characterizations.

poop in a group (verb phrase): (1) “get your shit together” (2) A group of friends that meet at a certain time and bathroom in order to converse while pooping in different stalls (3) group of dog walkers

boss up (verb) (student slang): take responsibility for things going on in your life

fisk (verb) (slang) to refute or criticize (such as a journalistic article or blog) point by point. In Aug. 2017, this verb emerged from a video the National Rifle Association posted to its Twitter account. The clip featured shrieking right-wing NRA personality Dana Loesch promising, among other things, that she and the NRA would “fisk” The New York Times. (Some originally thought she said “fist” which was later clarified by means of the transcript)

Shepard tone (noun):  a sort of an audio barber pole — a spooky auditory illusion, like an M.C. Escher drawing, where a tone continually ascends or descends in pitch, but seems to get no higher or lower — named after cognitive scientist Roger Shepard. Used in movies like The Dark Knight (2008) and Dunkirk (2017) as well as Pink Floyd’s song Echoes from the 1971 album Meddle. (listen to this sound file for the effect)

hockey stick growth (noun): a sharp increase that occurs suddenly after a short period of inactivity or dormancy. A hockey stick chart displays data at low-level activity (y-axis) over a short period of time (x-axis), then gets a sudden bend and finally a long and straight rise at a steep angle.

shadow ban (noun and verb): when someone’s posts on a social media platform are rendered invisible to everyone but themself. The term is somewhat controversial since it’s not exactly clear which platforms are actually doing this and it seems to have different implementations. The point though is that your experience using the site may not change — it feels like you’re still posting normally — but other people can’t see your stuff…supposedly. See The Reality Check podcast #518 (8 Oct. 2018) for a great discussion and NYT article “What Is a ‘Shadow Ban,’”

showmance (portmanteu noun): show romance — romantic relationship between two members of the cast of a play, film or television series. Often a publicity device used by reality shows like Big Brother or Survivor.

voodoo shark (noun): a mythical monster shark based on pseudoscience popularized by Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week” in which legitimate scientists are duped into making statements that are highly edited and taken out of context.

“Throughout the interview I was fed certain words to rephrase my sentences in ways that the producer thought would spark more interest. Some words or phrases they asked me to say were beyond anything I would say on my own and I refused. However, they were clever in their questioning by getting me to respond to a vague question with a response that could be used as an answer to a completely different question.” (Jonathan Davis).

See also the upcoming movie Science Friction (in production): “jaw-dropping stories of misrepresentation.”

tarrifism (noun): tarrif-based terrorism. A bully who wages economic war by means of threatened tarrifs would be a ‘tarrifist’ (guaranteed brand new!)*

conlang (portmanteu noun): a construction language or invented language (like Klingon, Avatar’s Na’vi, etc.). Conlanging is the creation of such a language.cafeteria opinion (noun): an uninvited opinion voiced to friends or, often a captive group, with no particular evidence (guaranteed brand new!)*

butt hurt (student slang): Getting your feelings hurt, usually from some petty remark. “Tough love teaches you to be less butt hurt to criticism.”

tree(s) (noun, student slang): stoner talk for marijuana. “Let’s smoke some tree.” “Who you think taught you to smoke trees” (Dr. Dre, 2003)

adulted (verb) apparently related to “raised” as in “I was raised in California, adulted in Arizona” (from a Bumble dating ad). Please make this usage go away.

And now, from the prison scene, compiled variously from a 2014 prison memoir I edited called Rescued, Not Arrested and Orange Is the New Black. (I recently read the book.) Hope you don’t need these:

irons (noun) guns (aka, ‘iron’)

banger (noun) gangbanger

peels(noun) prison garb

torpedo (noun): the shot caller’s faithful enforcer “They called them torpedoes. They were usually culled from the young herd, kids scared to death, the system moving them out of the sandbox in juvie and onto the big boy playground. They’d do anything to feel safe.”

Big Stripes (noun) higher-echelon prisoners

jacket (noun) legal papers, prison record, details of offense

baño (noun) bathroom, john

race leader (noun) yard leader, building leader, complex leader…that is, the hierarchy

mule (noun) A person who smuggles drugs into the institution.

* coined by me

more Klingon for the buck:

NRA launches new slogan

The National Rifle Association (NRA), in commemoration of the anniversary of the deadliest mass shooting in America’s history one year ago in Las Vegas, has developed a new slogan that it hopes will help soothe the nation’s ill-feeling about guns.

Noting that on Oct. 1, 2017, Stephen Paddock sprayed gunfire on a crowd of 22,000 concertgoers from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, killing 58 people and injuring almost 500, the NRA has concluded that it’s not the guns that we need to fear…

It has been reported that the NRA’s “Bullet Subcommittee” challenged the main body by putting forth their own proposed slogan, modifying one of its most prominent catchphrases, to reflect their constituents’ interests:

“The only way to stop a bad man with bullets . . . is a good man with bigger bullets.”

“Either way, with guns now off the hook we can turn our attention to the real culprit: irresponsible bullets, which are not even mentioned in the 2nd Amendment,” an NRA spokesperson said.

*The contemporary definition of “mass shootings” has come to be viewed as the act of a lone gunman shooting sometimes randomly into a public space. Thus, individuals leading packs to kill groups of people with guns — as with the 1921 “Tulsa Race Riot” (300 blacks residents killed), the 1919 “Elaine Massacre”  or the 1846 “Sacramento River Massacre” (several hundred Wintu Indian people) — aren’t viewed as mass shootings in the modern sense.