Archive for the ‘Wine & Spirits’ Category

Thinkin’ Too Much

Saturday, November 19th, 2016

If you’re the impatient sort, skip to BLOG PART. (Nooo! C’mon! Spoil me!)

I need to make something clear. I haven’t blogged regularly in a few years and even in the beginning, it wasn’t more than monthly. Most experts say that’s not enough. But I want you to know I think about it all the time. I tell you things in my head almost daily. (I don’t hear voices; I am the voice.) It’s just, I want perfection. I want quality content. I’m am a dinosaur. I mean to change. I want to eschew perfection. But it may take time and a concerted effort.

I also have my priorities and lately, it’s my book. I was already pitching agents – one even reviewed the full manuscript – when some sh*t went down that necessitated the revision of a couple chapters. Plus I skipped the country for three weeks. (It was amazing. I held a koala and it didn’t even claw my face off.) So now I really really need to focus on getting the book updated and pitched and published. But it’s the holiday season. You need entertainment. I’ve got your back.

And with a significant sports event like the World Series going down in October, I feel motivated to share the good stuff. For example, the Cubs beat Cleveland, ending a combined championship drought for the two teams of 176 years. That’s the longest in American sports – ever.

So there may be a typo. I may get a detail wrong. It’s gonna kill me and I’m scared the haters gonna hate and, well, f*ck ‘em because we’re all human and it’s so enriching to talk about that – about being human – instead.

Okay here’s the BLOG PART:

World Series commentator Joe Buck (seriously? That’s his real name or is he a retired porn star who kept the name?) said this during Game One of the World Series:

Sometimes a pitcher can be so NASTY, the hitter looks good taking it.

Does anyone else think that sounds sorta filthy? It sounds like a comment someone might say while watching porn (do people talk while they watch porn? Say, a bunch of drunk college boys watching? Surely they wouldn’t be that analytical.).

Obviously, the word NASTY is making a huge comeback. It’s so fun to say, isn’t it? I’m all for it.

Moving right along. How can I have watched [read: “talked my face off through so many baseball games”] baseball for over three decades and not have noticed until now that some catchers wear nail polish? I noticed Cubs catcher Willson Contreras was wearing Alien Green for Games Two and Six. They say it helps the pitcher see the catcher’s signals.

One of the umpires on the World Series staff, John Hirschbeck, has survived back surgery, cancer twice, and two of his sons dying. How does a person even get through all that? Here’s how.

On to football.

NOT. Football is bad for you. It’s really bad for your head. This is one of the more unlikely reactions to a concussion. Even if you know it as soccer. Those headers can do damage. On that note….

How jelly are you of this prickly pear tuna (“fruit” in Spanish, not fish) harvest? Who has two thumbs and a bottle of tequila to add to the syrup you make from these gems? (Me. Duh.) Tequila is bad for your head, too, but prickly pear is a super fruit, so you break even.

I know they’re long over, but I still have a few segments on the DVR and I gotta tell you, it’s SO worth your while (is that an old-timey phrase? Right, it’s “time.” I just looked it up.) to set some sort of reminder for the Summer 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo. The Paralympics are like the Olympics with a few extra dynamics to make it that much more complex and fascinating. The athletes are just as athletically talented but with that extra major challenge, like one leg or no sight or whatever, so the training and the striving and the journey are that much more complex. The commentators, many of them retired Paralympic athletes, explain all the stuff buzzing around in your head that you’re not sure is appropriate to ask. Truly wonderful.

The Paralympic Opening Ceremonies were way more interesting then the Olympic ones – no offense to the creative team. They challenged stereotypes and ideas of what beautiful, amazing, strong bodies are and believe me, there were plenty of all three. Like, check out this awesome photo of Viktoria Modesta in WIRED. See what I mean?

If you’re reading this and have ties to New Mexico, Tharon Drake from Hobbs (NM, population 36,000+) swam himself into a couple silver medals in his first Paralympics, in the 400m free and 100m breaststroke races.

I gotta get out before all this is even older news and I decide not to post, again. So In light of the election, I’ll leave you with this semi-relevant quote from Serena Williams:

I’m not asking you to like my body. I’m just asking you to let me be me.

Peace, y’all.

‘Bout Half

Monday, July 6th, 2015

I’ve crawled out of the ocean that is my memoir project (query letter between my teeth, pitching agents any day now) to bring you up to speed on the sports entertainment (operative word!) stories of the first half of 2015 and prepare you for the second half, should I submerge once again.

I’m going backward first, then forward in time, ‘cause that’s how I’m rolling. Hopefully you aren’t on your fourth Mr. Pineapple, too fuzzy to take in all the news.

First, the US won the Women’s World Cup! They crushed Japan 5-2 and US player Carli Lloyd scored a hat-trick in arguably the most important game of her life, in a sport where the final score combined is often less than three goals.

JUNE: The Chicago Blackhawks won their third Stanley Cup in six seasons. Apparently Blackhawks player Teuvo Teravainen told Finnish media that female Blackhawks fans are “quite horny.” Mr. Teravainen is all of 20 years old, so I’m going with the pot calling the kettle black.Eat your (Farmers Market) veggies!

Deadly food is the trend in baseball this summer. These items individually would fulfill your daily caloric needs (not including veggies).

MAY: Several top FIFA officials, including one who runs the US region, were arrested. FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, is facing corruption charges from the FBI. Suspicions were initially raised by the award of the World Cup 2018 to Russia. The Swiss are investigating that decision as well as the bid won by Qatar to host the 2022 Cup. Best related quote:

Awarding the World Cup to Qatar was like awarding [baseball’s] World Series to Martha’s Vineyard.

On the same day American Pharoah won the Triple Crown – the first in 37 years – the biggest boxing disappointment ever occurred. Despite the record-breakingly high viewing price tag, the Mayweather vs. Paciou fight was deemed Better Never Than Late.

Past and future Triple Crown winnersA view of the private jet traffic jam for the Derby proved even private jets get in traffic jams. It made me wonder how many high-profile millionaires managed to fly to both premier events. Confirmed was Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. He’s the NFL player who, as it turns out, definitely knew about his deflated balls in the AFC championship game preceding the Patriots’ Super Bowl win.

In cycling, sprinter Peter Sagan won the Tour of California. Yes way! We know Sagan isn’t any ol’ sprinter, though. And top contender Andrew Talansky had to drop out Day One due to respiratory complications. Still, winning a multi-stage race overall isn’t what sprinters do. He’ll be a highlight of the Tour de France frashizzle.

APRIL: A sports power couple has called it quits. I’m guessing Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn separated around the same week Vonn told Seth Meyers she, mmm, loves golf. “I just… [smirk]. I love golf [smirk].” Not two weeks later, Vonn and Woods announced they’d split.

REPRESENT! Caroline Rodich won the Boston Marathon this year. Pretty cool that she lives and trains in Santa Fe, NM, except that during her honorary parade there, some d-bag broke into her car and stole her purse.

At 21, pro golfer Jordan Spieth is the second-youngest winner of the Master’s, just months behind Tiger Woods when he first won. Spieth broke all sorts of records in the process, followed by winning the US Open in June, as did Tiger back in ‘02. And he’s really poised like Tiger was… for now.

MARCH BACK: Nothing happened in the world of sports at all whatsoever. I know the Super Bowl took place, but enough about balls already.

Onward!

JULY: Tour de France! Tour de France! Day One was a time-trial on July 4 in the Netherlands, because it’s almost France. Then the race went through Belgium, because the fans there are cray cray. On the fourth day, the race will see France, where mountaintop fans are just kinky.

As far as I can tell, African Daniel Teklehaimanot of team MTN-Qhubeka is the first Black man to win a WorldTour jersey, earning the polka-dot climber’s jersey at the Dauphine in June. He’ll get a chance to earn the jersey again as the first from the country of Eritrea to compete in the Tour de France (the first Black cyclist in the Tour was Yohann Gène in 2011). This article in Esquire isn’t the only one to explain why a Black cyclist will win overall by 2020.

SEPTEMBER: With nearly 20 years’ experience and a 2013 tryout under her belt, Sarah Thomas has been hired as the first full-time female official in the NFL. She started officiating football after a pastor kicked her off the men’s church league basketball team she was – I’m guessing – a star player for. She’s known for her ability to stay cool. Well, yeah.

SERIOUSLY? Tim Tebow is back in the NFL. He’s the Christian quarterback who would pray on the sidelines and inspired the pose, “Tebowing.” After three years out of the NFL and some work as a college football analyst for ESPN, he’s been signed to a one-year deal as the fourth-string quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles. In other words, it’ll take a miracle for him to get playing time.

See if you can come up with your own Tebow religious cliché (no offense intended). I’ll start: It’ll be a cold day in hell before Tebow plays! (Too easy?)

GOOD SENSE: We will not be seeing Chris Borland on the football field. He was the fourth NFL player in a week, under the age of 30, to leave the NFL after only one season. He’s put having a healthy brain ahead of a pro football career.

Consider yourself up to speed. I believe the only league I didn’t cover is the NBA. (LeBron didn’t win.) Happy Second Half!

Sit Back, Unwind (while it’s still summer!)

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

BREAKING NEWS: Becky Hammon has been hired by the Spurs as the NBA’s first full-time, paid (assistant) female coach. Lisa Boyer was almost first, “hired” back in 2001, but only worked part time and wasn’t paid. Like that really counts (no disrespect to Boyer).

CAN’T STAND THE RAIN: The toll this year’s Tour de France took on its riders was as much psychological as physical. The number of cyclists who finished was only a percent or two lower than the average the past five years (2012 was the significantly lower number, with 153 of 198 riders finishing to 2014’s 164). It was the weather that did it, meaning rain, of course. And the cobble stage, because riding cobblestones in. the. rain. is just nutty.

Sprinter Mark Cavendish crashed the very first day. It was just like last year, except this time, the race ended in his country, in his mom’s home town, with the fam all waiting at the finish line.

Even the Royals were there: Kate standing, yellow jersey in hand, ready to clothe the “Boy Racer.” She seemed a touch stumped to see the German specimen that is Marcel Kittel standing before her with arms outstretched. If you were watching closely, you noticed her turn to Prince William, mouthing, “Did this man eat Cavendish? Where’s Cavendish?”

This was a mental sports setup if ever there was one. Greater men would buckle under that sort of pressure, whether consciously or subconsciously. The question his sports psychologist asked is, “What made you choose to lean heavily into that other sprinter?” Cavendish, the most prolific Tour sprinter of all time, certainly remembered from last year that the younger Kittel could outgun him – did on opening day and otherwise in 2013 – and will in the future.

Cavendish was only the first of several very top contenders of the Tour to crash out. Next to exit was defending overall champion, Chris Froome, who was followed by his primary rival, Alberto Contador, crashing out the tenth day.

American Andrew Talansky, who finished Top 10 last year, crashed during several stages. In his final stage, he fought the pain at the back of the pack, at one point dismounting his bike to stop the suffering, tearfully listening to his coach’s breakdown of the situation. Talansky finished that stage, but didn’t start the next one.

So Italian Vincenzo Nibali finished first overall with a massive 7:37-minute lead over second place – a psychological tactic if ever there was one, to assert his win wasn’t dependent on the absence of Froome and Contador. Sprinter Peter Sagan did something similar, all but guaranteeing himself the green jersey long before the end of the race.

There was a women’s race! It took place during the final stage, just before the men’s, and was won by Dutch cyclist Marianne Vos. It’s not the first women’s Tour de France-ish, but it’s (another) start.

Moving on. World Cup – is it football, soccer or futbol? This explains it.

UNDER PRESSURE: Brazil knows exactly how Cavendish feels. In the semi-finals, overall winning team Germany scored five goals in 29 minutes against Brazil in Brazil: fastest ever five goals; first time since 1974 five goals were scored in the first half of a game; first time Brazil lost a competitive match in its country since 1975, and holy hell, did I mention the final score was 7-1?!

GOOAAALL!!! This was the rare soccer game during which viewers could play a drinking game for goals and actually need to call a cab ride home.

Brazil was the favorite right up until it faced Germany without its No. 1 star, who was kneed in the back the previous game and couldn’t feel his legs afterwards – at first he thought he might be paralyzed. Brazil’s captain was out as well, serving a suspension. No chance.

Algeria won it’s first Fifa World Cup game since 1982, against Korea. When an Algerian player cramped and fell over during the only injury not faked, a Korean player stopped playing mid-game to stretch his opponent’s leg for him on the field, while the game progressed. A+ for sportsmanship!

F- for sportsmanship to Luis Suarez of Uruguay, who needs to be banned to Kindergarten, where he should learn to keep his teeth off other people. Read this.

And he’s not the only one. Albuquerque Isotopes catcher Miguel Olivo brought ear biting back into play during an intrateam altercation. Yes – he bit a teammate. Again, people, Who gets past Kindergarten without kicking that nasty little biting habit?

In other baseball news, because the next major sports event not cycling is the World Series, Josh Reddick of the Oakland A’s was using Careless Whisper (yup – by Wham!) as his walk-up song. That, my friends, is just one reason the A’s might win the World Series. Sonny Gray is another. You heard it here (unless they don’t).

TIMBITS: The underlying implication of Kevin Durant’s speech to his mom as he accepted the NBA’s MVP award in May, is that the beauty of living into your 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond is that even if you have a really rough decade or three, they could be followed by times so unimaginably better.

Enjoy the rest of summer, my friends! If you haven’t already, sip a Moscow Mule served over ice. Note: If you’re crazy about ginger, I say skip the copper mug. It seems to dilute the flavor.

2 oz Tito’s Handmade Vodka

3.4 oz (half bottle) Fever Tree Ginger Beer (half bottle)

Juice of 1/2 lime (cut the juiced lime in half and toss in a quarter)

Even-Steven

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

Cali

We’re nearly halfway through 2013 and I’m feeling audacious, maybe like tossing caution to the wind….

Speaking of risky business, the moment we’ve all known was just on the horizon has arrived: NBA player Jason Collins has announced he’s gay, securing his place in history as the first openly gay male athlete in the majors of an American sport.

As for wind, according to some Baptists, he’s pissed off God real bad. Being a god of guilt, however, rather than striking down Collins, God apparently chose to rip a tornado through Oklahoma. He hopes Collins won’t shrug it off as coincidence, instead taking personal responsibility and feeling unbearably guilty for the destruction.

In the calm after the storm, a low, authoritative voice could be heard. One witness claimed it said, “Reeeedneeeckogniiiiiize!” Scared the living lices outta him.

SWIM, DUMMY! Remember US Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte? You know – the guy who admitted to peeing in the pool? Surely you’ve been wondering, What [Else] Would Ryan Lochte Do? God, being a punishing god, has created just the reality show to answer your question.

In a promo interview for his show, Lochte ‘bout killed the interviewers with his, um, charm. On the show, Lochte shares wisdom-infused gems, like, “If you’re a man at night, you gotta be a man in the morning.” Jeah!

GRAND DEPART: The 2013 Tour de France is less than a month away, beginning June 29 and celebrating its 100th year. Partay!

Tejay van GarderenThe 2013 Tour of California cycling race is a wrap, with Tejay van Garderen earning his first career win in a stage race and looking tip-top for the Tour de France.

Over the span of the racing week, California temperatures ranged from the 60s to 100+ during the day. If you’ve never watched cyclists suffer in a race, the stage to catch on the NBC Sports Network was when reflective heat from the road hovered around 120 degrees and the race finished on a steep uphill.

Cyclists literally wobbled (you can skip to the fourth minute) over the finish line, caught there by team staff who lifted them from their bikes and handed them ice to shove down the backs of their jerseys and yes, the fronts of their shorts. One cyclist collapsed before the finish. Another, Jonathan Cantwell, had to withdraw from the race the following day due to burns suffered when he crashed and landed on scalding asphalt, after which he stood in the middle of the road in only his shoes and broken helmet (spandex doesn’t hold up well to a stove) before changing into a new team kit.

WHAT COMES AROUND: This month, it’s Major League Baseball providing the latest doping scandal. A couple mega names, including Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun along with about 18 other players, are being investigated for “treatment” by a guy who’s not a doctor, with substances not so loosely related to anti-aging benefits.

More quietly, a high-profile Italian cyclist and former winner of the Giro d’Italia, Danilo Di Luca, tested positive for EPO just prior to this year’s Giro. Two quotes from this article sum it up best:

“Danilo has betrayed cycling once again," Giro race director Mauro Vegni said. "But I’m happy it wasn’t a young rider. Danilo belongs to a generation that has navigated through the doping system.”

and this from team director Luca Scinto:

“Di Luca is an idiot. I never wanted him," Scinto said. "Di Luca is sick. He needs to be helped.”

If you missed it, the Kentucky Derby was May 4. Multi-talented TV analyst and Seabiscuit star, Gary Stevens, came out of retirement as a jockey to ride Oxbow. While the 50-year-old didn’t fare so well in the Derby, he owned the Preakness start to finish, and placed 2nd in the Belmont Stakes.

The female jockey in the bunch was Rosie Napravnik on Mylute, coming in 5th in the Derby, 3rd in the Preakness, and 6th in the Belmont Stakes riding Unlimited Budget. Napravnik is the first female jockey to ride in all three Triple Crown races in the same season.

MZ. UNIVERSE: While we’re talking women, Christmas Abbott is training to be the first female NASCAR pit crew member (there are women in other leagues). It all began with an invitation from a Michael Waltrip Racing pit crew coach, former New Mexico Scorpions hockey defenseman and 2003-04 captain, Shaun Peet. A man of his word, Peet once told me his philosophy of life:

Life is either a daring adventure or it’s nothing, like Helen Keller said.

EYE CANDY: Alas, we’ve seen the last of Tim Tebow in the NFL. I guess that means I won’t be using TeBow – wait, TeVo – to catch his games. Geez, I can’t keep it straight (neither could Tim McGraw on Ellen). Is it TeVo? TeBow? T-bone? Been T-boned? (Ah – that’s how you’d refer to Tebow’s date, say, if he wasn’t saving himself and all.)

Wait, wait. What’s this?! We haven’t seen the last of him in the NFL? OMG – The Patriots have hired him! The Patriots hired Tebow! Along with Tom Brady, ladies (what the heck, a few guys, too) in New England are going to need seat belts on their stadium seats to keep from sliding right off, ogling the best-looking QB squad in Mark Lemelinthe NFL.

TIMBITS: Albuquerque native Mark Lemelin has wrapped up his first season as an official in the National Hockey League. To assist you in grasping the significance of his accomplishment, I’ll have you recollect the Jamaican Bobsleigh Team (which did experience eventual success). It’s the stuff movies are made of. A toast to Lemelin! (This guy says it’s okay.)

Well friends, in the name of self-preservation, I’m keeping it short. It’s been risky business. Let’s hope – no, let’s pray I survive.

All I Want for [Winter Holiday] Is…

Monday, December 19th, 2011

San Pedro Parks Wilderness, NM

But it isn’t all about me, so I’ve backed away from the eggnog and found these riveting stories to entertain you over the holiday:

Monique van der Vorst has endured several accidents in her life, but the most recent was the one that counts. Paralyzed as a teenager following botched foot surgery, the Beijing Paralympic medalist crashed in training last year, rendering her – wait for it – unparalyzed.

Yeah, I just used a word that isn’t in the dictionary, because it doesn’t happen.

Van der Vorst has since joined the Rabobank women’s cycling squad, with plans to compete in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympicsnot Paralympics. Talk about a fast recovery. (The Rabobank men’s team competes in the Tour de France. Perhaps its current, most-recognizable name is Luis Leon Sanchez – he won a stage in 2011.)

Big BenSpeaking of the Olympics, the 2012 London Games are less than 225 days away.

GRATITUDE: Not to make light whatsoever of the status, but you have to wonder how many paraplegics are tipping their chairs since hearing of van der Vorst.

Jim MacLaren wasn’t so fortunate.  If you don’t know his story, it’s a read well-worth it. You’re just sitting at your desk waiting for beer o’clock to roll around anyway – am I right?

I first read of MacLaren in a superbly written article by Elizabeth Gilbert for GQ in May, 2002. She explained how MacLaren was an athlete who’d lost his left leg after being hit by a bus.

GQ May 2002Following rehab, he resumed competing. It was during an Ironman race eight years later, when MacLaren was 30 years old, that he was hit by a van.

No freaking way. MacLaren broke his neck. Quadriplegic.

Here’s an informative blog post on MacLaren and the incredible work he did, written by the author of Sixty Seconds, Phil Bolsta.

An amazing, inspirational person, MacLaren died in August, 2010. In his honor, as MacLaren requested in his own, final blog post,

If you could just take 30 seconds close your eyes and take a huge breath all the way from your stomach and filling your lungs. And feel grateful.

Then again, if a wheelchair accident was a “cure” for paralysis, I suppose Mark Zupan and the folks from the movie Murderball, documenting paraplegics playing full-contact rugby, would have walked long ago. (Zupan’s book, Gimp, is another riveting read.)

On a much lighter note…

BABY, YOU’RE A FIREWORK: If you’re a fan of the Schleck brothers or cycling in general, this 18-minute interview with them by Ushi Hirosaki is a must-see – all the way to the conclusion. Consider it holiday therapy.

Don’t worry. The English (so-so) kicks in after the intro. If you like this sort of thing, more interviews can be found here.

After you watch the interview, google “Wendy van Dijk.”

TIMBITS: Thanks to Volkswagen and its Passat commercial, not another sleepless night will be spent pondering the lyrics to Rocket Man: “burning out his fuse up here alone.”

Until now, I’ve been singing, “burning up the streets of Avalon.” Oh come on – what did you think the lyrics were?

On your knees, boyIf you’re stressing over what to do with all those Winter Holiday vacation days, I have just the thing: Tebowing. And to all you crankies sick of hearing about Tebow, pull it together. You’re blessed. How else can you explain you’ve been chosen to witness a modern-day Miracle each time the Broncos pull off a fourth quarter – even overtime – rally?

If vino is more your thing, here’s a trio of movies to stream on New Year’s Day: Bottle Shock, Mondovino, and Blood Into Vine, in that order.

Bottle Shock is about a California wine beating out a French wine in a 1970s competition. That’s the equivalent of an American team beating a French team in the Tour de France.

Oh wait – that happens a lot.

It’s also about family dynamics and business, interracial sex, and sweet, sweet victory.

Mondovino is a two-hour documentary, but it has intriguing commentary on the global politics of which wines are deemed best, if you’re curious about that sort of thing. It’s hard core. Drink espresso while you watch.

Last, but not least, Blood Into Vine is about Maynard James Keenan of the band Tool producing wine in podunk Northern Arizona. Keenan is a rock star. Of course the movie is quirky and good fun.

Consider yourself entertained. Best New Year Ever to you all!