Monday, November 30, 2009

L'Argentier Vielles Vignes de Cinsault

Yeah I don't actually know what any of those words mean either, but it is a DELICIOUS wine.

Okay I lied a little. L'Argentier is the winery, and the grape is, apparently, Cinsault. It is very dry, to the point where it seems to sear the back of the tongue. It's medium to heavy bodied, and has notes of pomegranite, cherry, and walnut. It's pretty freakin' amazing wine, and so it is appropriate that this is what I drink as I celebrate having finished the Ultra Rough Draft of Rising Mind. This story has been like a physical pressure in my head for a long time, and I am extremely glad to have it all out on paper.

So let's raise a glass of whatever's handy to all the other winners of this year's NaNoWriMo! Congrats guys! Take December off and let 2010 be the year of great revision!

Oh hey.

Oh hey look, I won the nano thing.

Tonight I am actually going to finish the book. Then I will regale you all with tales of thanksgiving drunkenness, complete with embarrassing pictures of my friends.

But for now? There is only Rising Mind, because god damn it I need to write the last few scenes. I  hate action scenes. I hate them a lot. I am bad at them. VERY bad at them. Also, I have realized that I change my main character's appearance from one paragraph to the next in the second chapter. I'm AWESOME.

Okay, hush now, it's time to apply to graduate school. Edit in January.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Maryland has wine?


I mean, it's a pretty awful climate for that sort of thing, seems to me, with its unpredictable droughts and deluges, but what do I know? I just drink the stuff. Someday I really would like to take a couple courses on viniculture and learn the hows of it instead of just the drinking of it.

So here's this Black Ankle vineyards Rolling Hills red sitting on my countertop, and I look at the back of the bottle and it has a listing of where it was grown, when it was picked, the geology of the region and the orientation of the slope... and I think "hot damn. That's some useful information right there." I don't know what I'd use it for, but I'm sure it's useful to someone.

It's just... strange. Like it doesn't know whether it wants to be sweet or dry or fruity or bitter or what have you. It's a blend of seven types of grape, mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, which can be pretty cool, but this is bad jazz. My parents say it's drinkable, but I'm eyeing this 3-oz taste I poured myself like it's out to get me. I am pretty sure it is. Apparently it costs over 20 bucks, which is highway robbery, I swear to you, but hey. The winery itself is pretty awesome, all greenified and hip. Apparently they recently built a new tasting room out of hay bales and stucco. I'm down with that. I should go do a tasting and meet them and not tell them how bad I think this wine was.

Oh well! Tonight I go to La Madeleine to work on Rising Mind some more. Only seven thousand words left! I'm in the home stretch, bitches!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Beaujolais nouveau est arrive!

...And hey it's not very good!

Well, the Jean-Claude Debeaune isn't, at least. It smells and tastes like cherry juice, complete with the sort of dry, bitter finish. I kind of like it, but that's because it reminds me of drinking cherry juice in Germany in place of wine and pretending to be all sophistimacated, except when I went through my thirteen-year-old mandatory vampire phase and pretended I was drinking blood omg so dark and deep and stuff.

Speaking of vampires, New Moon comes out tomorrow. The adverts for it are so laughable... every time that skeevy little mexican says "DO NOT MAKE ME UPSET." I have this sudden urge to heave half a brick at him in true Anhk-Morpork fashion. When I tell this to people they say "well he turns into a wolf wtf" and to them I respond: "Then I will acquire a bigger brick!" Goddamn werewolves getting all up in my shit. Best weapon against werewolves? Mace. Totally blinds them and sears their noses so bad they'll never be able to track you. Mace bomb the little fuckers.

...Yeah so that's my slightly inebriated rage for now. It's time to write about horrible little soul-eating demons again.

Oh god why am I not updating anymore

...Blame NaNoWriMo. I'm nearly 35 thousand words in and holy balls I just can't stop writing. Any time I sit at my computer I'm probably typing Rising Mind, and not these blog posts. I'll definitely return to this in December, when I have the chance to think about something other than crazy people and graduate school.

But here is a catch-up post. Let's talk about my last excursion to Max's Tap House with BeerSnob and The Irish.

BeerSnob is snobbish about beer, and has a hard on for stouts of all varieties. I like pilsners, because they are refreshing and pleasant and do all the things a beer should do, i.e., get you drunk but not make you sick. Irish will drink anything you put in front of him because he is poor.

I started out with the Reider Maerzen. Nobody pronounces the umlaut correctly, you linguistically uncultured bastards. Either way, I'd ordered the pilsner, but the bartender misunderstood me. Still, this was everything I want in a beer. It was light enough that I could drink it without feeling overfull, and it had a clean, malty flavor that consistently made me want more.

Irish got the house beer that night, which was a kind of gross Belgian blonde. It had the kind of fruity sweetness that I enjoy in wine, but is totally out of place in a beer. I don't know what was going on there. Very sad.

BeerSnob bought snobby beer: the Brewdog Zeitgeist dark lager, to be specific. It was DELICIOUS. It was sort of tart up front, the way a just-underripe cherry is, and had a very light cafe-au-lait flavor and texture at the back. It was smooth and delicious. /he also got a taste of the Thirsty Dog Stud Service Stoud, probably because it had the silliest name on the menu. It was lightly bodied, tasted of burnt coffee with a clean finish. Smooth, but not what I wanted. I blame it on the fact of it being a stout.

For our second round, TheIrish acquired a beer called the MAXIMATOR. Because when there is a beer with a name like MAXIMATOR someone has to try it. Here is what my notes say about that:
"Holy fuck spices. Holy crap let me wash out my mouth now jesus why did I drink that there can be no loving god in a universe where there is this beer." It was not very good.

I got the Reider Pilsner this time, which was the strangest thing I ever tasted. It was clean and bubbly the way I like it, but it had this strange vegetable aftertaste... like peas and asparagus. The boys didn't believe me, but when Irish drank some he immediately sputtered: "IT'S HEALTH BEER!" It was, too.

BeerSnob's second round was a glass of Hitachino Redrice, a rice beer, and he wished it hadn't been. This was all about fruit. It was apricots and cinnamon and ginger all over the place. We all agreed that this would be a FABULOUS beer to cook with, but it was not a pleasant pint.

Much later in the week I had a couple glasses of unexceptional pinot grigio. They were both clean and tart, though one had a bitter hint of lemon rind that I didn't like all that much. Pinot Grigio is wine for people who don't like wine very much, or so says the guy who orders the wine for our restaurant. But it's a fabulous wine to sip while writing, because the gentle flavor doesn't distract you!

I have also set up a bunch of infusions in a series of one and a half liter bell-jars that I bought for the purpose. The reason there are no pictures up or descriptions is that they are all to become Christmas presents and I don't want to ruin the surprise, so there.

And now I'm going to go back to writing my terrible urban fantasy. Rock on y'all.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

On coffee.

It doesn't technically come in a bottle, but it totally could if you wanted it to. While I drink wine often and beer occasionally, I drink coffee or tea every day.

My first job was at a coffee shop. I worked weekends for a handfull of dollars an hour. Before then I didn't drink coffee. It was bitter and awful to me, but I loved the smell. Eventually waking up early on the weekends got the better of me and I realized that I needed a mild stimulant to keep me going.

I first started drinking coffee black, because I'm hardcore, right? Then I realized that it tasted like chewing on tree bark and just put milk and sugar in it. That was where the trouble all started. I began drinking coffee every morning, because it was delicious, and hey, when it's at home and at work it's free! Badass!

Eventually I started developing a really awesome condition where my heart would shudder in my chest. It wouldn't skip beats or do that fun thing where the ventricles get overcharged and contract twice in a row, it beat totally normally, but shivered while doing so. It was an intensely distressing feeling, I didn't know what was going on until I described it to my mom and she said that a coworker of hers had something similar, and it went away when he stopped drinking caffiene.

Oh. God damn it.

My friends did not understand why I switched to decaf. Why drink coffee at all when you're not getting the psychoactive effects? Because it's delicious, you bastards. Coffee is just flat out good. Of course, the fact that it's a stimulant is also pretty cool, and in college I returned to regular coffee.

That's basically all just a lot of backstory for this statement: Starbucks coffee is awful. It is the weakest. It is no good. They have excellent espresso, don't get me wrong, and if you're looking for some vaguely homosexual icey chocolate concoction then Starbucks is your man. However, if you just want a damn cup of coffee... damn they're bad.

So what does that have to do with the price of feet, Stark? Well, it's seriously interfering in my thought processes. I like to write and relax in the Barnes and Noble coffee shop and I feel vaguely guilty about doing this without buying something, so I always get one of those apple purses and some form of coffee after I get at least 1500 words down (Yes, I am attempting to condition myself to write more. Yes, this makes me a huge nerd. Yes, it's totally working.). Yesterday I got a vanilla latte, which are usually pretty good. It's hard to screw up espresso + milk + syrup. Today, however, I have a cafe au lait.

This thing is a disgrace. Instead of being rich, milky coffee, it is apparently just milk and bitter flavor. What the hell, Starbucks? What the hell?

Back in college I used to get three shots of espresso and doctor it like coffee. It was pretty damn delicious, but holy christ I think I may have gone tachycardic if I kept doing that shit.

In other news, tonight myself, BeerSnob and Kaiser TNT (because he looks like Napoleon Dynamite) are going to Max's Tap House for beers. TheIrish may join us, but we do not know. I will update again tomorrow about  the delicious beers I try.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Hogfather and Incas

Sunday was a good day all around, but mostly for the way it ended: a bottle of wine, a Boyfriend, and a BBC adaptation of Terry Pratchett's The Hogfather. If you're looking for a three-hour long movie to waste an evening with, this is pretty much it. The special effects are awful, but the sets, costumes, and acting are all so awesome you can't even complain.

For the wine we selected a bottle of Inca torrontes/chardonnay blend. It cost about 9 bucks, but Boyfriend insisted that it was pretty good. When first uncorked it smelled exactly like orange juice. When poured... well, it still pretty much smelled like orange juice, but maybe a bit sweeter. When consumed... Tang. It was Tang-flavored wine. That is a lot better than it sounds. It was a very easy drinking wine, clean and light and enjoyably sweet, but not syrupy. For nine bucks a bottle? Sure. I'd buy it again.

Boyfriend also had a bottle of pumpkin ale, which, naturally, I can't recall the name of. Most pumpkin beers have this weird, sugary smell and a bizarre aftertaste. This... not so much. It smelled like spiced beer and tasted like pumpkin bread. Not a Starbucks pumpkin muffin sugarbomb, but like pumpkin bread. It was roast pumpkin and spices. No sugar. The cinnamon and nutmeg aftertaste actually ended up being nice and clean, not cloying at all.

Of course, I only had one sip of it. The Boyfriend's father tasted some and said "That wasn't bad. I don't want any more than that sip, but it wasn't bad." I've got to agree with him there.

In other news, I am so far behind in my NaNoWriMo project it ain't even funny. There's a guy at my school almost halfway done already. I'm seven thousand words in and feeling accomplished, then I see that. Holy crap. he must be a machine.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Punkin' Chunkin'!

First, yesterday was a good wine day. I got to try two merlots at the restaurant. One was a decent, aromatic, medium bodied and had a good taste of dried fruit. I can't quite recall which one that was. The other was a Kendall-Jackson grand reserve merlot, and it was fantastic. It was the kind of wine that you *could* drink with a meal, but it would almost detract from how tasty the wine was. I thought about trying to get various flavors and scents from it, but I was too busy enjoying the experience.

I also liberated a half bottle of Entrada sauvignon blanc from a party of pharmaceutical people. Lucky them. I might even bring it back to the restaurant. It smells like sugared pears and tastes like sugared pears steeped in vinager. Thank you very much, Argentina, but I'll stick with your malbecs.

Speaking of malbecs, I also had a lovely glass of Terrazas malbec at the Boyfriends house. He and I first had this wine at Fogo de Chao, which is basically a fat kid's paradise. Made of meat. He fell in love with its spiciness and full body, and buys it whenever he thinks he may be cooking red meat. It really is a lovely wine, especially with lamb.

In other news, today I went to the Punkin' Chunkin, which is basically an engineering frat party. The idea is to build absurdly powerful machines to fling pumpkins up to 5,000 feet. There are centrifuges, air cannons, catapaults, and trebuchets. My favorites are the air cannons, which get the best distance and look the most impressive. My god, the Old Glory and the Young Glory III had hundred foot barrals! The best named air cannon was probably the Second Amendment Too, which also had a rediculous barral.

Possibly the greatest thing about the punkin chunkin is the bizarre mix of people. You have the engineering clubs who build the machines (or, in the case of one group, genetically engineer pumpkins to go farther), the Harley riders who help sponsor the event, fratboys who just want the excuse for a tailgate party, and D&D nerds who are jealous of the useful skills that the engineering nerds are displaying. I know I saw at least one gang member there, and Boyfriend claims to have spotted several undergound biker gang signs. It was a surprising group, but it reveals a universal truth: nothing brings people together like the promise of artillery.

Sadly, the event was BYOB, and Boyfriend and I did not realize this, so we went drinkless for the entire event. No matter, for now we have both consumed a bottle of Blue Moon, and he is napping on the couch while I type. It is a good day.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Washington State Gewuertztraminer and NaNoWriMo

2008 Paradise Peak Gewuerztraminer. A good wine for halloween, because it is candy sweet. Seriously. Candied pears all over the place, a bit of a bitterness on the back of the tongue. The bitterness might be a result of having eaten intensely spicy food beforehand. I don't like it much, personally. It's too sweet. As it's getting colder I'm more interested in full bodied dry wines. That white brgundy from that restaurant was just about perfect.

So it's November, right? That means it's National Novel Writing Month. This month I have no excuse, I have to write. So suddenly Open Bottles is going to double as my NaNoWriMo blog. All NaNoWriMo entries will be tagged as such and maybe even hidden behind a link... I'd put it in the Rising Mind blog, but I'm pretty ashamed of the entries over there already, and the more blags I have the more I feel like a drain on society. So there. At the start of every day I'll have the writing from the day before posted here. In order to maintain the topic of the blog, I may even play the Paper Writing Drinking Game (write a page, take a shot) at some point. :D


I love Halloween. It's just a fun time of year. Candy, pumpkins, costumes... and an excellent excuse to drink too much.

On the night of the 30'th I got a group of friends together for a liqueur tasting and some spicy pumpkin soup. Almost everyone had a similar reaction to the liqueurs: the raspberry was the best, followed by the pomagranite, followed by the ginger vodka. Nobody liked the apple caramel, and the strawberry was unspectacular. Boyfriend liked the ginger vodka the best, though, and refused to have anything to do with the apple caramel, while BeerSnob tasted a few things, made faces, and ate all my goat cheese. Bastard.

At my party, which was a complete success, the strawberry was the most popular, followed by GrogLass's limoncello, which I have yet to taste. I was busy keeping people from breaking things and drinking key lime cocktails. My recipe is as follows:

2 oz vanilla vodka
1/2 oz rose's lime or fresh lime juice or whatever you have handy. Limecello might also be good for bonus alcohol points.
1/2 oz frangelico
1 oz cream
shake over ice, strain into martini glass rimmed with crushed graham crackers. Lacking graham crackers, I usually rimmed it with cinnamon and sugar instead. It was quite tasty.

Yay tasty things! Anyway, I was surprised at the number of people who showed up, and the great costumes some of them had. GrogLass and BeerSnob were, respectively, a dinosaur and the meteorite that killed the dinosaurs. Boyfriend put together a remarkable Fidel Castro costume out of crap he brought from WalMart. My good friend Hootie McBoob was an extremely attractive gray devil, which only got more awesome when another good friend, I'll call him Mr. India, showed up in a business suit with horns and red facepaint. Apparently they used the same purple lipstick.

I had people bring booze with them, and in some cases this was extremely awesome. I mentioned GrogLass's limoncello earlier. We were concerned about the quality, because it did not age at all and she had left the pith on the lemon peels. This did not matter at all, because someone got the brilliant idea to mix it with ginger ale. It disappeared, mostly into Mr. India's stomach. Another friend, Thom the Bhomb, had the unfortunate idea to bring jello shots. Well, really it was a big bowl full of boozey jello with a bunch of spoons in it. Terrible idea. Far too attractive to the already drunk.

Today was the continued cleanup. I have a metric crapton (or do I mean crapliters?) of booze left over. Unfortunately some of that is Miller Lite. Oh well. It'll get drunk in the fullness of time.
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