ROBERT OATLEY SHIRAZ (2009)—Fails to lure Glen Bear back to LBHQ

My Fellow Inebriates,

Glen Bear has disappeared.

Glen Bear attacking Miss P

Glen Bear attacking Miss P, 2006.

You may not remember Glen…. Big fluffy polar bear…hates summer, likes the freezer, could devour a whole seal if one flippered its way through the house….

I started looking for Glen last week when the temperature dipped under 0° (Celsius, my fellow inebriates, otherwise I would have been dead). Glen only really likes his environment when it’s freezing cold, and it’s the only time he’ll allow a cuddle. I needed him to warm me up. And that’s when I realized he’d vanished.

Scary, me, Glen Bear, and Carnivorous Duck, late 2006. Only Glen was happy about the snow.

Scary, me, Glen Bear, and Carnivorous Duck, late 2006. Only Glen was happy about the snow.

My dad said he moved with us for sure back in August. But I can’t really remember. The last time I saw him, the kids had stuffed him into some tight space—maybe a backpack or a box—but what happened to him after that? I don’t even remember which house we were living in then!

It’s sort of a good lesson about drinking, really. Being blasted all the time, I haven’t paid enough attention to Glen’s whereabouts. A big animal like Glen could lumber off anywhere. Polar bears have ridiculous olfactory sensitivity; he might have smelled a female down the street and gone off in pursuit.

Miss P says he didn’t go anywhere. She says Glen “doesn’t really walk.” I said of course not, of course Glen doesn’t walkhe has more of a four-legged gait.

Glen looks more like this when he drinks Polar Ice

Glen looks more like this when he drinks Polar Ice.

When Glen gets mobile, the floor shakes. He’s at least 50 percent bigger than Scarybear—a massive, awesome creature (also our under-recognized resident vodka expert).

So where is Glen???? The kids are curiously unconcerned. One thing is clear, though—if I’m to manage my anxiety, I’ll need some liquor. Not vodka, though—that would remind me of Glen. Maybe ROBERT OATLEY SHIRAZ (2009).

The Mudgee region is one of Australia’s less-advertised wine areas, known mostly for providing blending grapes for such larger wineries as Hunter Valley. ROBERT OATLEY SHIRAZ represents a Mudgee play for higher status. Let’s open it.

Glen has helped me open bottles occasionally, mostly by smashing them, but in his absence my parents had to help. First impressions are earthy, peppery, dense fruit with a hint of taxidermy. The scent does not radiate good behavior, but 14.1% is what’s needed to contend with an anxiety like Glen’s disappearance.

robert oatley shiraz 2009The first sip of ROBERT OATLEY SHIRAZ is a reinforcement of concentrated fruits: blackcurrant, tinned jam, decent acidity, moderate-to-aggressive tannins, and distant wombat farts. Which is to say: it’s not half bad. For you solidovores, it would pair nicely with savory foods, barbecued meats and such. For my “liquids-only” friends, it’s a bit of a chore on its own. Likely you’ll be comparing it to the last really good Australian Shiraz you enjoyed—and there are so many out there that comparisons will pop out immediately. ROBERT OATLEY SHIRAZ approaches the good-natured drinkability of its typical $20 Australian cohort, but it evinces too many conflicting and barnyardy notes to hang with truly awesome Shirazes. It’s just okay, and maybe even a little obnoxious.

Drinking a bottle of Shiraz did not sharpen our memories as to where we last saw Glen—not mine or my parents’. As for the kids, they think maybe he went with them to Nana and Papa’s. Or to school. Or no, maybe not either. They don’t care; they’re watching TV.


My recent adventure with my good friend Glen Bear and a mickey of POLAR ICE vodka was certainly a good time. Enormous Glen, who could probably take down a baby walrus, totally lost control in our house and caused a lot of damage. So I thought I’d include him in my next vodka tasting because it was so much fun.

Next on my list: SMIRNOFF vodka, a new-world product based on an old-world recipe. A readily available and affordable vodka.

But first I needed to Glen-proof the house. You see, my parents had told us they don’t want to go to JYSK to replace things that we wreak while inebriated. They just want our house to stay peaceful and keep standing. They really didn’t want Glen involved. To be honest, they didn’t want me sampling vodka either, but I told them I was going to get famous as a vodka reviewer and make them rich. I said I was going to be a Useful Animal and monetize my website by featuring thoughtful reviews that people would seek out.

They countered that I might do better to peddle my ass downtown.

I countered that I do not even have a working anus.

And so I was allowed to have a vodka tasting, as long as I kept it civilized and avoided breakage. They urged me not to include Glen Bear, but I really like him, so I promised we’d be careful. But you know how polar bears are.

Actually, polar bears are in deep trouble. Two-thirds of them are expected to disappear by 2050 due to habitat loss caused by global warming. They are officially a Threatened Species under the Endangered Species Act.

I wasn’t sure if this was a reason to give Glen vodka or not, but the SMIRNOFF bottle was sticking innocently out of its paper bag, calling to us. It was the one with the red label, the bottom-shelf variety that’s ubiquitous at bars and restaurants.

So how does it taste?

The first sip is inoffensive and almost flavorless but is followed by an acrid, saliva-evaporating throat-burn. It demands a mixer, so we get ourselves some Tang. I look at Glen and think about his habitat getting inexorably warmer. A bear like Glen just wouldn’t know what to do about the ice floes receding, and vodka can’t help.

We continue to drink and find ourselves accepting SMIRNOFF’S bitter notes, almost savoring them now that we’ve lowered our expectations. It does taste fine with Tang, and in a pinch you could use Mountain Dew or lemonade—anything with a sweet tartness to offset the bitterness. I wouldn’t do a greyhound, though.

SMIRNOFF has been pretty intuitive about the flavors it needs to mask, producing a full line of flavors that include citrus, blueberry, black cherry and who the hell knows how many others. The SMIRNOFF people know what they’re doing; they know their vodka isn’t top-tier, so they’ve made it pocketbook- and user-friendly. They’ve also tapped into the marketing genius of variety whereby competition can be harnessed within their own brand. When I think of this principle I think fondly of Malcolm Gladwell’s talk on marketing. I like his hair so much; it is at least as undisciplined as my fur.

So, what kind of shape is our house in?

Well, it looks like a freaking bomb hit it, but that’s because my mum is too busy doing my typing to clean properly. She has to; my paws are more like little nubs than hands, and I don’t have any patience. I just want to be famous, one drink at a time. Oh, yeah, and my mum is lazy.

And how is Glen doing?

Glen lumbered off after one or two cocktails. He wasn’t too excited about SMIRNOFF, but worse still, he’d had no idea about polar bears being threatened, and he was totally freaked out when I told him. I said the two of us should do something for polar bears, like send them money or tell people about global warming. A big guy like Glen Bear, who can pack an Arctic seal under one arm while yanking at a helicopter pontoon, shouldn’t be lying around cowering and retching up orange-tinted SMIRNOFF. We should be parlaying our web infamy into charitable activities.

So we’ll start by encouraging our readers to click on the World Wildlife Fund widget on the right. It’s one small action to show we care about the environment. Go ahead—do it! And then grab yourself some Tang and SMIRNOFF.


My Fellow Inebriates,

I was attracted to POLAR ICE for obvious reasons. With a bear on the label, you can’t go wrong. With its reasonable price and plastic mickey, POLAR ICE struck me as unpretentious and safely shatterproof—not to mention as bear-friendly as a vodka can get without devising some sort of opening mechanism for thumbless bears who lack grip strength.

So my first order of business this week was to procure a bottle of POLAR ICE and reel around with it.

For twelve bucks ($24 for 750 mL) I expected something on the rough side, and so my first taste of POLAR ICE was a shock, albeit a clean, refreshing one. This is a smooth, smooth vodka, quadruple-distilled from rye, and the sort of spirit that easily disappears into a mixer. This is exactly the sort of vodka that gets bears into trouble.

And so I plied my friend Glen Bear with some POLAR ICE. Now, Glen is a genuine polar bear; he’s big and brawny and goes around on all fours. Permanently infantile and for IQ purposes pushing the high 20s, Glen is as dumb an animal as you can find. But I thought it fitting to share my vodka with a lovable polar bear, and Glen was hanging around, drooling slightly.

Glen loved it. If I’d had any doubts about embracing this cheap(ish) vodka, they were vanquished watching Glen lumber drunkenly around the house after lapping POLAR ICE out of a bowl.

You have to be careful with polar bears, I realize now. I should have remembered my mum has this friend whose dad was in the armed forces up north, and one time he saw a polar bear trying to take down a helicopter while holding a seal under its arm. They are powerful creatures and you really don’t want to get them too f#cked up. So I had to comfort Glen a little, and spoon with him until he got himself under control.

All in all, another good adventure, and good reason to RECOMMEND this product.