BEAR FLAG DARK RED BLEND—Freaky label for a freaky day

My Fellow Inebriates,

The head-lice notice came home from school AGAIN today. This time a kid in Miss V’s class has bugs, so my dad spent 15 minutes this evening combing through both girls’ hair to make sure LBHQ hadn’t been infested.

Despite her habit of bestowing hugs upon and sharing hats with every friend she has, P was relaxed during the inspection. V was freaking, though. Every few weeks one classmate or another has been positive for lice, and V is a natural pessimist, so she was probably thinking her number had come up.

Phew. No lice.

And that’s how the kids felt. Read this (from HealthLinkBC) and you’ll get a sense of how I felt.

Anything that can’t be washed (i.e., Blankets, coats, headwear, stuffed toys [italics mine]) can be treated by: placing in a closed plastic bag for 10 days or putting in a hot dryer for 20 minutes or putting in the freezer for 48 hours or ironing it.


The choices, again:

  • Asphyxiation
  • Cooking/suffocation with motion sickness as a side bonus
  • Cryonic stasis (beside meat, probably)
  • Flattening and hot-branding

I repeat, OMFG, people. I need a drink stat. And the kids need to shave their heads. But FIRST I NEED A DRINK.

BEAR FLAG DARK RED BLEND to the rescue. Christine left this $13 bottle of unpretentious California vino when she visited last week, along with a sweater I’ve been using as a blanket. You should never really share sweaters if you’re concerned about lice, but we had no idea we’d be on Yellow Alert about lice, and I don’t think Christine meant to leave her sweater, especially since she could have predicted that I’d fetishize it. She did mean to leave the wine, because Christine is wonderful and genuinely cares about my alcohol supply.

bear flag wine

BEAR FLAG DARK RED BLEND bills itself as a “big, bold blend” of dark varietals (Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouschet, Petit Verdot, and Tempranillo—a veritable Heinz-57 mixture). Compare the “DARK RED” with BEAR FLAG’s three other products (SMOOTH RED, SOFT WHITE, and BRIGHT WHITE) and you can see this outfit is all about sloshing as much into the vat as possible and seeing what comes out. Slap a hideous label on it and voila! Low expectations.

bear flag art 2

Promised tasting notes include chocolate, coffee, and blueberries accompanied by low tannins—an easy-drinker you could stuff under your arm and take to a casual barbeque. Let’s pour it.

Yes, it is a dark red wine, but not to the point of opacity. If anything it’s ruby-garnet and very agreeable to contemplate as it opens up. First aromas: earth, tobacco, stone fruit, and a slight 28-day wine kit–like backnote. First sips are pleasant, although I beg to differ with BEAR FLAG’s own marketing copy on boldness. This is a medium-bodied, fruit-forward wine with some sharp notes that mosh a little roughly with the rest of their tasting-note compadres.

BEAR FLAG reminds me a lot of Granny (my dead Granny, that is) because she probably would have liked it. Granny wasn’t an asshole about wine the way my parents are; she didn’t require a jammy explosion, and she probably would have enjoyed BEAR FLAG for what it is: an uncomplicated and totally drinkable blend. And if Granny hadn’t been too nice to say so, perhaps she would have told my parents off for being wine dickheads. Perhaps she would have told them they need to actually know something about wine to diss it credibly. And then she and I would have taken the bottle outside and downed it while she had a smoke.

bear flag artWhich is to say, I like BEAR FLAG. It’s not my favorite $13 wine, nor is it the most interesting wine in its price range. But it has a wacky, freaky label, especially if you like weird art, and—for you solid food fans—it probably would go pretty well with, um, what’s a solid food you would barbeque? How about a hamburger? I bet solid-food eaters would love BEAR FLAG with a hamburger. But they’d probably be freaked out when they opened the freezer to take the meat out and there was this frozen alcoholic bear beside it staring at them accusingly.

Luckily that won’t happen because the kids don’t have lice. This time.

PAUL & PHILIPPE ZINCK PINOT BLANC (2009)—On the agenda, if not P’s Show-and-Tell program

My Fellow Inebriates,

Even though my dad is too cool to tuck me in at night, I miss him when he goes away. So does my mum, although we both agree it benefits our beer inventory.

My dad wasn’t going to share his team-building golf week agenda with the bears but, when I snooped around in his luggage the night before his departure, I found a cheap bottle of Scotch (unopenable), oodles of electronic gadgetry, and no clothes. Either there is another bag (full of who-knows-what goodies) or this week’s team building will be done naked.

I also found a printout of a PowerPoint slide for a presentation my dad’s doing to explain his new role at the company. It has four quadrants:

  1. Current activity
  2. Upcoming activity
  3. Challenges
  4. Opportunities

Like a flash it struck me that I could justify my own activities similarly. Justifying the LBHQ enterprise might get me closer to the bar of my dreams.

These ideas were pinging back and forth between my two brain cells when Miss P proposed taking me to Show-and-Tell. This coaxed my mum’s head out of Facebook to ask pointedly: “What exactly would you tell your class about LB?”

Giggle giggle. “About how he loves wine.”

Damn straight I love wine. This kid knows me well and I’m sure she’d have done me proud at Show-and-Tell, advertising the existence of Liquorstore Bear to the spawns of a parental demographic often described as “Bible Belt.”

Alas, my mother killed the idea. “Why don’t you show your new bike helmet?” Then hastily: “But don’t let any other kids try it on! We have to be careful about lice.”

Killjoy! We might love lice! Maybe if we brought home some lice my mum would vacuum! Bleach the sheets! Wash the—OMG!—wash the stuffies, AAARRRGHHHHH!!! No!!! My brain had misfired again with that thought, but there was no changing things now.

So P brought the helmet, which was or was not a hit with her cohort—she didn’t say, having moved on by end of day to other notions.

“LB, your blog is utterly, utterly narcissistic.”
—my mother

Had I received my 15 minutes of Grade One fame I would have told the class about PAUL & PHILIPPE ZINCK PINOT BLANC (2009), purchased by my mum in a typically petulant “do it myself” Mother’s Day mood. She wanted something that would pair with peanut-lime pork and coconut rice, and my dad is flummoxed about white wine period, never mind white-wine/food-pairing puzzles. Since my mum is almost as much of a white wine rube, she leant upon our local booze shop consultant to recommend the pinot blanc.

Billed as creamy and structured with orchard/citrus notes and lingering spice, ZINCK PINOT BLANC is a no-brainer complement to delicate flavors. Now, if only my mother produced delicate flavors in the kitchen…

She doesn’t, so let’s talk about the pinot on its own merit.

ZINCK PINOT BLANC doesn’t disappoint the nose, although if anything the notes are more tropical than orchard-like. As it sits, deep straw-colored in the glass, it wafts faraway scents that suggest humidity, scorching heat and heady refreshment, sun-soaked naked bodies that don’t resemble my dad teeing off in his birthday suit… There is, in the distant background, a hint of ginger perhaps—just enough to make you wonder whether you imagined it.

My parents’ prevailing fear of trying white wines no doubt harkens back to surreptitious childhood sips of Domaine D’Or and Sommet Blanc. If their parents intended to poison them against white wine, it worked. So whenever we do get a white in the house, they’re gobsmacked if it’s any good. The main thing they suspect white wines are missing is substance. This made ZINCK PINOT BLANC a good choice, weighing in at a respectable 12.5% alcohol and exhibiting both heft and depth. Slightly off-dry, this pinot’s character develops as the wine edges up from fridge temperature, revealing mineral subtleties and a satisfying mouthfeel.

It was perhaps a little too substantial for a Thai food pairing. Definitely beyond my philistine parents—but nonetheless a hit all around.

The newest agenda item: get more of it.

We have to open that mescal bottle sometime

My Fellow Inebriates,

For the third time a head-lice notice has come home from the school. As always it says “A CASE OF HEAD-LICE HAS BEEN IDENTIFIED IN YOUR CHILD’S CLASSROOM”—although, if you bother to ask the teacher, this is a form letter, and “the case,” in this case, occurred in another classroom.


The thing that scares my parents most about head lice is cleaning the house. If the bugs nest on your kid’s head, you have to tear the house up, vacuum and bleach, seal things in bags—never mind comb out the critters and do the chemical hair treatment, all the while undoubtedly listening to some misguided neighbor ranting that the special shampoo is carcinogenic.

For filthy people like my mother the idea of vacuuming the whole house—i.e., every room in one go—is completely novel. Vacuuming the upholstery would be unthinkable. So there’s a big temptation to stay home and wait out a lice scare. But of course we can’t do that. For one thing, yours truly would get a lot of additional playtime and possibly need some parts sewn up.

The other solution would be to shave the kids’ heads—something my mother would be all over if it wouldn’t attract the wrong kind of concern. One of P’s little friends recently took the scissors to her own head, and her parents—hard-core Langley homeschoolers unable to conceive of a punked-out hairstyling solution, buzz-cut the girl’s hair, little knowing that from then on well-meaning neighbors would inquire relentlessly about “the chemo” and even bring casseroles over. Since my mother is afraid of attracting weird neighbors, shaving the kids’ heads is out.

Luckily the school already instructs the kids about personal boundaries, discouraging hat and jacket sharing as well as hugs (there’s an actual policy against hugging for grades one to seven), all of which is defeated by the dress-up gear in the preschool room consisting of every kind of hat and helmet imaginable, and obviously available for heavy sharing. Which means head lice invariably originate in preschool (where kids trade hats) and kindergarten (where the ban on hugging isn’t enforced).

Of course lice don’t stay confined to those lower grades because, when the recess bell goes, all the kids run out onto the same playground where they forget the regulations and swap hats, jackets, and hugs.

So there’s not much you can do to prevent lice, I guess, although I did pose one suggestion to my parents: soak the kids’ heads in mescal. If it’s enough to kill that big caterpillar larva in my tantalizing blue bottle, surely it can scare off any roving head lice.

For someone who doesn’t like the word “retarded,” my mother sure throws it at me a lot. She said her world was interesting enough without Child Services being involved, thank you very much, you brain-damaged bear.

I thought it was pretty generous to offer my bottle of mescal. But let’s face it, I can’t get it open anyway by myself. We need a reason to open it. Would it be so weird to sniff it from the kids’ hair?