GARNACHA DE FUEGO—The cure for the End of Days, but not Fluffy

When we bought GARNACHA DE FUEGO (2009), we did so just in time. Some dude was grabbing up all the bottles! Naturally this made us eager to hang on to our treasure and maybe even taunt the guy with the one bottle in our basket.

Ahhhh, the liquor store. The clinking! The tinkling! The samples! The atmosphere! The scent of empties being returned…I don’t accompany my parents there very often because they don’t trust me, but if my mum’s using her big patent leather bag I sometimes jump in just as they’re leaving. On this particular day I wasn’t just lured by the thought of thousands of booze bottles. I wanted to get the hell out of LBHQ. Scarybear had just mentioned that we were approaching Fluffy’s first Halloween in the house.

On this day last year, Granny was very sick, and Fluffy was with her. Far away in Ireland, he sat on a chest of drawers, observing Granny’s last days…waiting.

Fast-forward to today. Granny: dead. Fluffy: haunted by Granny, who didn’t always get along with my mother. Scary: preoccupied with the earth’s overdue magnetic field shift and needing to project his apocalyptic anxiety onto the easiest victim, yours truly.

Scooping that one bottle of GARNACHA DE FUEGO felt like such a score that I forgot about these problems. Spain has been lucky for us lately, $15.99 wasn’t painful, and 14.5% alcohol gets two paws up any day. Situated high in the hills of Calatayud (say that drunk), old vines produce grapes bursting with concentrated sweetness and depth. And when the guy ahead of you in the checkout is buying 15 bottles of the stuff, it’s a strong endorsement.

My dad was afraid of the silly label. True, it’s a little over the top, but at LBHQ we are much more leery of a wine label bearing wombats or chooks than one depicting “Grenache of Fire.” Indeed, the former type is more frightening than Fluffy’s paranormal antics and the great magnetic pole flip put together.

What Scary doesn’t realize in his countdown to December 21, the generally agreed-upon End of Days, is that a magnetic reversal would take tens of centuries to occur. It’s not like planes will fall out of the air or birds will start bonking into each other suddenly. The change will be subtle. Some scientists believe the shift is already in its early stages but is so slow as to be imperceptible.

North is magnetic by virtue of atomic majority rule in the planet’s molten core; more atoms face north than south. As individual atoms flip, eventually the dominant magnetism may shift to south, but a long and middling interval will precede any definitive magnetic south. During this time—and this is the potentially dangerous part—the earth’s magnetic field will weaken as its atoms’ polarities split roughly evenly between north and south orientations, leaving the planet more vulnerable to the solar flares that a strong magnetic field would deflect. In turn the ozone layer will be more susceptible to holes, although, as Scary should know from his other theories about Armageddon, by then we’ll have torched the whole protective layer anyway. We’ll (well, you will, and I if I shave my fur off) be running around with skin like crispy KFC, but not this December 21, people.

Scary is a total dumbass but at least he stayed out of the GARNACHA DE FUEGO. The “fire” may be a reference to the peppery spice that characterizes the wine, especially at rear palate after it’s dealt you much-welcome lashings of rich, earthy fruit with a nice acidic backbone. Considering the reported desolation of the Calatayud region, it makes some kick-ass grapes, which translate into a gorgeously balanced wine with just the right tannic profile. You could drink it with food, but if you’d prefer to get ripped out of your head, enjoy this quaff solo (especially if “solo” means you don’t have to share with Scary, Fluffy, or your dad).

The best thing about having a whole bottle of GARNACHA DE FUEGO to yourself is that you’ll lose all concern for magnetic shifts, tectonic upheavals, solar flares, and the like. But you might still worry about the occult potential of any possessed members of your household, especially on a night like tonight. I hear that when you’re really wrecked you become more susceptible to suggestion, and this was probably the case when I thought I heard Granny asking me if I had any cigarettes. I didn’t (holy shit, my fellow inebriates, I’m too flammable to mess with stuff like that, and where would I keep them—being ever-nude I don’t even have a pocket for a flask), but when I turned toward the voice, all I saw was Fluffy with his vacant eyes.

And how was YOUR Halloween?

The Fluffy files—exorcism after exercise (Olympic exercise)

My Fellow Inebriates,

I almost forgot to mention I received a reply from the exorcism people. So nice, too, so helpful. I really didn’t expect it.

If you weren’t around that day (I’ve no idea what day it was), here’s my initial query:

They were really prompt!

I felt really bad that I’d missed the message and did my best to explain why.

So the Fluffy situation is progressing, peeps. But we might have to wait until the Olympics are over.

Take that, Fluffy!
The Olympic Cross being blessed by Fr. Simon, with youth leaders from the Joshua Camp.
Credit: The Catholic Church in England and Wales.


RIPTIDE PALE ALE—Get thee behind me, weird-tasting beer

My Fellow Inebriates,

The other night Fluffy started using his mind powers again—this time making one of the kitchen lights stutter with a freaky high-pitched sound. Holy crap, I’m glad my parents were home; it was so scary, and there was Fluffy, just sitting there, impassive.

So I decided I’d had it with Fluffy and his weirdness. It was time for an exorcism. My first thought was to contact the Pope, but he is surprisingly impenetrable, although he does have a Facebook page. 

Anyhow, I sent off my little query, but as usual it went into the ether, just like my letter to Bono regarding a Gin-Aid concert to raise money for a kick-ass premium gin selection at LBHQ. 

Then I found an organization called Exorismus. They seemed to know their shit, so I contacted them.

Still, I had a sinking sense of being alone on this. I realized I really didn’t know anything about exorcisms, but fortunately the Internet abounds with instructions.

  1. Exorcise in pairs. Just like exercising, exorcising works better with a buddy. If one of you starts feeling doubtful, the other one can spot for you.
  2. Make sure that the possessed person has nothing that may be possessed. Such things include religious artifacts, voodoo dolls, unholy writings, etc. But what if the possessed person is a thing like Fluffy?
  3. You don’t need to cast a circle of protection. Good, because the kids threw all their new sidewalk chalk into a bucket of water and turned it into soup. My mum says there’s no way they’re getting any more.
  4. Only attempt an exorcism if you can’t contact a trained exorcist. Trust me, I don’t really want to spearhead Fluffy’s exorcism. But the Pope’s probably less likely to call me back than Bono.
  5. The “Exorcism” movies are not valid guides for performing your exorcism. Dammit!
  6. Do not converse with the demon. My granny may have had some personal demons, but she’s certainly not an actual demon, although Fluffy might have some of his own. It could be crowded in there.
  7. Do not challenge the demon. OMG, to what? High-jump?
  8. Do not command the demon to do anything on your own authority. Well, I wouldn’t, would I? I can’t even get Fluffy to move over on the couch when we’re watching TV.
  9. Do not be afraid. Sure.
  10. Do not get angry. Supposedly demons thrive on anger and fear, just like that energy ball on Star Trek that made the Klingons and humans fight. Perhaps getting drunk would help.
  11. This process should NEVER be performed by anyone who is not a bishop or an exorcist, because it will cause a disaster. Okay, so maybe this point should have been number one on the list. If my parents come home and find me performing an exorcism they might get really freaking mad, especially if it damages the house. They are already in a world of shit with the strata council because they broke the garage door. (Or maybe Fluffy did that.)

So there you have it. No exorcism, at least for today. Instead, let’s kick back with a RIPTIDE PALE ALE from Lighthouse Brewing. Hazy-looking with a thin head, RIPTIDE has the same funky aroma as RACE ROCKS ALE—musty rotting orchard notes with some citrus thrown in. Sweet malt and floral notes chime in on the palate, but the carbonation is insufficient to counterbalance the funky taste. The body is medium—not satisfyingly substantial, yet not crisp or refreshing. This beer is mired in a limbo between the solid ale I hoped it would be and the fizzy summer sipper I would have settled for. Much the way Granny’s stuck between two worlds, housed in a musty furball named Fluffy.

If I could perform an exorcism on RIPTIDE PALE ALE I would cast out its “sessionable” aspirations. Whatever it’s trying to do with the overripe fruit, it doesn’t do it well. And if there were other beers in the house, well, it would languish in our fridge like a limbo-trapped soul*.

*The Vatican declared limbo non-existent in 2007.