STARK RAVING RED—Warranted for four reasons

In the bathtub this morning: the most massive silverfish ever witnessed at LBHQ.

Only slightly larger than this morning's silverfish. More cuddly? Only Stephen Harper knows.

A well-known screenwriting technique for making a character more likable is “SAVE THE CAT.” Early in the story, the character rescues something—maybe a cat. Maybe Stephen Harper rescued this cat from a tailings pond. Maybe?

I wanted to put it in a cat carrier and send it to Stephen Harper as a pet, but instead my mother took a shower with it. So immense and robust was the silverfish, she reported, that it would not be nudged by mere water down the drain. Instead it filibustered by the hole until she aimed the showerhead right at it.

Now, ordinarily I would prefer not to have a play-by-play of any of my mother’s nude activities. But I like to monitor our silverfish situation—for a while, you may recall, I thought Fluffy Bear was summoning the creatures from some nearby Hell Mouth. He seemed to be marshalling them for some sort of arthropodic assault, an insect-amplified grief cry for our deceased Granny, whose bear he was before he came to live with us.

But then my dad sprinkled some white powder (instructing me not to even think about snorting it) around the baseboards, and the silverfish disappeared. For the most part. Those that survived his poisoning emerged larger, stronger, and more apt to wrestle you in the shower.

I think you’ll agree, my fellow inebriates, that the foregoing ramble warrants wine on at least four counts:

  • Encountering a silverfish the size of a cat is traumatic.
  • The mere notion of my mother in the shower is doubly so.
  • Should Fluffy choose to summon armies of silverfish again, they will be formidable.
  • Stephen Harper is still the prime minister of Canada.

stark raving red with LBKnowing that Stephen Harper probably wouldn’t think to reward us with, say, a bottle from the cellar at 24 Sussex Drive, I don’t feel so bad about failing to wrangle him a creepy new pet. Nor do I feel bad about busting the screwtop off a bottle of STARK RAVING RED. A big, jammy blend of Tannat, Zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet, and Petit Syrah, STARK RAVING RED is gonzo with plums and cherries, filling the mouth with sweet, somewhat cloyingly boozy fruit. It’s not disciplined in the least, MFI, it’s in-your-face, as bold as a silverfish on steroids, but without scales or antennae. I liked it even though there wasn’t a chance of taming it, decanter or not.

Would I send a bottle to Stephen Harper? Not on your life. He probably drinks $100 wine every night. Nope…if I ever send him anything, it’ll be a cat-sized silverfish, and he can stroke it.

stephen harper with silverfish copy

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3 rules about wine labels, and what happens when you violate them

My Fellow Inebriates,

Last night an animal clawed through our garbage. Presumably it was a raccoon, but it could also have been Scarybear. Or it could have been the neighbors’ cat Cuddles, a monumentally dense animal that refuses to exit our driveway when Dad backs the car out.

One day the kids drew a chalk circle around Cuddles, who stayed within it for the whole afternoon and was still there when Mum called everyone for dinner. Trapped by its magic boundaries, Cuddles seemed indifferent and probably would have loitered all night, but I’m guessing Fluffy tapped into some higher evil realm and released her with his mind while the family was eating. Fluffy may well have empowered Cuddles to ravage the trash as well, although she seems a bit dumpy for that level of exertion. Scary isn’t known for physical feats either, and he doesn’t smell any more garbagey than usual, so it probably was a raccoon.

My dad’s job tonight is to stay awake until the raccoon comes back. If he can catch it in the act, slay it, and skin it, then Mum won’t need to buy stewing meat for the YELLOW TAIL bourguignon she’s planning. A barely touched 2010 Cabernet-Merlot has been languishing at LBHQ since our very good friends brought it over for dinner, unwittingly violating three rules about wine labels:

    • BEWARE OF PRIMARY COLORS

    • BEWARE OF ANIMALS

    • THIS GOES DOUBLE FOR MARSUPIALS

Call my parents snobs (not me! I wanted to drink it) but they avoided consuming YELLOW TAIL even at the cost of remaining sober throughout the evening. They’d better hope our friends don’t read this review, because they slagged that wine. This is what happens when you get picky about wine: it ruins your appreciation of cheap wine and turns you into a pretentious douche who decides to make beef raccoon stew instead of knocking the YELLOW TAIL back with your favorite little bear.

Let’s hope Cuddles doesn’t encounter the raccoon. Come to think of it, we haven’t seen Cuddles for a few days…

If my dad succeeds in catching the raccoon, justice will be served in more than one way. Not only will he punish it for strewing our trash all over the street and causing the garbage dudes to reject it (which means we have to guard it from raccoons for a further week), but he’ll punish raccoons as a species for shredding the swimming pool in the back yard of the very neighbors who brought us the YELLOW TAIL!

I don’t know what sort of weapons my dad will use against the raccoon. I don’t like thinking of its furry bandit face getting brained by a shovel or choked by a length of Monster Cable. Let’s hope he does it quickly so the animal doesn’t suffer. Dad probably doesn’t want it caterwauling in our driveway at 3:00 a.m. either, especially since we’re new to the neighborhood.

He’ll have to bleed it out properly so the meat doesn’t get ruined. Whether this is a family-friendly activity remains to be seen, but I’m guessing the kids will wake up and want to be part of it.

As for your humble bear, I will be nowhere near this action. I don’t eat stew. I sympathize with animals. I want to drink the YELLOW TAIL CABERNET MERLOT. Yes, it has a schoolhouse grape-juiciness, lacks any depth at all, clouts you over the head with tannins, and features a stylized kangaroo leaping beneath a crayon-blue banner. All these characteristics say to me easy drinking, fun, approachable, chill-out wine. To my mother they say (beef) bourguignon.

So it’ll be a big surprise for her when Dad emerges from his dead-of-night scuffle with a reeking freegan trophy. She’ll swoon when he plunks it on the counter for her to butcher. And she can tell our good friends with a wink, “That YELLOW TAIL did not go to waste.”

WOODBRIDGE MERLOT by ROBERT MONDAVI (2010)—You don’t have to tell me to like it

My Fellow Inebriates,

The one time I watched The Big Bang Theory I ended up cowering under the table, finally done in by its relentless laughtrack, desperate to escape the canned exhortations to roar with uncontrollable mirth at see-it-from-a-mile-away comic set-ups that warranted a snicker at best.

I wanted to like The Big Bang Theory. Several respected (if not respectable) friends had recommended it. Multiple awards commend the show. The geek/physicist characters couldn’t be more lovable in concept. The Big Bang Theory doesn’t even seem to be a guilty pleasure for its following—fans openly and wholeheartedly recommend it to friends as one of television’s rare gems.

But instead of happily joining the bandwagon I found myself cringing, paws to ears, so distracted by frantic machine-generated pseudolaughter that I could barely follow the plot. True, I was drunk, and, also true, bears have very sensitive ears. But the laughtrack problem went beyond those issues. It made me want to run away.

Thing is, I didn’t mind the show. It was kind of quirky and fun, and I could imagine getting to know the characters. But I couldn’t stand the obnoxious cues to laugh. It was like having a jackboot on my larynx—Laugh! Laugh, you piece of shit! Laugh! Don’t you know it’s funny?!

I think it was actually less funny because of the laughtrack.

There are plenty of TV shows that fly without a laughtrack: The Office, 30 Rock, Entourage, Family Guy—you name it. They use musical cues to emphasize comic timing, plus they’re funny. They’re actually funny, and you can tell because you’re not being hammered into submission by that unceasing, slider-controlled background noise.

Being told to laugh is sort of like being told by a shelf talker that a wine is worth 88 points. Only it’s a screamingly loud shelf talker that doesn’t understand you’ve already decided to buy the wine and are prepared to enjoy it—it needs to keep yelling at you that it’s great, Robert Parker swilled it for five seconds and pronounced it worthy, it’s awesome, it’s great, it’s an 88, 88, 88, 88, eighty-eight, eighty-plus-eight, four-score-and-eight…arggghhhh!

I have no idea whether Robert Parker has reviewed ROBERT MONDAVI WOODBRIDGE MERLOT (2010), but that was the wine that got me drunk the night I watched Big Bang Theory. Shared among four glasses (each of which I visited repeatedly) rather than decanted, the dark ruby merlot sheeted smoothly on the Reidel stemless ware and then formed long legs. Cherries, plums and raisins were the frontline aromas, with a subtle hint of spice.

On the tongue the merlot delivered on its dried-fruit olfactory promise, supple and juicy yet dry. Not overly tannic, the wine boasted concentrated flavors and a decent finish. It was ideal for a social occasion featuring distracting conversation and pre-K kids under the dinner table—not so complex that it demanded undivided attention, but satisfying as a table wine and a meal accompaniment for those who like to eat solids.

MONDAVI WOODBRIDGE MERLOT certainly didn’t require any cheerleading to be enjoyed. At $13.99 and 13.5% alcohol it fit the evening nicely, and hey—a shelf talker didn’t tell us to buy it. Too bad for us we followed it with a bottle of MONT GRAS SOLEUS, but even that was a windfall for me, because I got to finish what others wouldn’t.

And that’s why I was drunk for Big Bang Theory.