Posts Tagged ‘Rob’

Wine-tasting for writers

Today Rob and I hosted about fifteen writers for a wine-tasting. We tasted a variety of wines from top-shelf to rock-bottom. The idea was to learn how a wine snob would approach wine as opposed to a hard-nosed detective. I asked Rob to find some flawed wines as a contrast to the good ones. As a non-wine geek, I have learned that I can tell the difference between bad and good wines, but that mediocre and good are harder to tell apart.

He arranged the afternoon into three flights of wine. Each flight looked at a different common style of wine. Here’s the fact sheet he prepared for the folks who attended today.


Sutter Home
White Zinfandel (rosé)
California, 2006

As the bottle proudly proclaims, this is the original “White Zinfandel”. While certainly not the first rosé produced from Zinfandel, it was the first made is the light-bodied sweet style and marketed aggressively. It is produced from Zinfandel grown and vinified in California´s central valley on a prodigious scale. It is a true mass-market wine.

Domaine Sautereau
Sancerre rosé, Côtes de Reigny
Loire Valley, France, 2006

Situated in the village of Crezancy this 18 hectare estate has been producing wine for 9 generations. Sancerre is primarily of producer of Sauvignon Blanc but Pinot Noir is also grown to make red wine and occasionally rosés such as this one.


Chardonnay, Oracle Vineyard
Willamette Valley, Oregon, 2003

Included today as an example of an overtly flawed wine. It has been “cooked” in transport. Wine is a living substance and poor handling can injure or kill it. This is one gross example of such abuse.

Domaine Dujac (Druid)
Meursault, Le Limozin
Burgundy, France, 2000

Domaine Dujac is a highly respect producer of red burgundy in Morey-St. Denis. This is an unusual example of a white, which is produced from purchased grapes of the Le Limozin vineyard (a village cru but one of premiere cru status). This is Chardonnay but made is a racy and refined style.

Alexander Valley, 2005

California Chardonnay – big, buttery, oaky. Love or hate it, this is what built the California wine industry into what it is today.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Barton & Guestier
Vin De Pays, Cabernet Sauvignon
France, 2003

This is a typical inexpensive table wine, a style produced around the world for everyday consumption. A comparable American example would be Charles Shaw (2 buck Chuck) from Trader Joe’s. Grapes, or juice, or even finished wine is purchased, blended and bottled by some entity which then sells the wine under its own brand. Occasionally, one finds a pleasant bottle in this category but they are intrinsically generic.

Cabernet Sauvignon
Napa Valley, 1998

While this winery is within the Napa Valley appellation, the vineyards and winery are near the top of Mt. Veeder at an elevation of 1,800 to 2,400 feet. Robert Travers, the winemaker, strives to make intense, long-lived wines in the tradition of great red Bordeaux which express the personality of the vineyard – the terroir. Like nearly all Bordeaux, this is a blend with small portions of Cabernet Franc and Merlot added to the Cabernet Sauvignon for balance and complexity.

I suspect we will do another of these. The thought at the moment is to do a vertical flight (same wine, different years) to show how wines evolve. Also we’re thinking of pouring the wine in three different types of wine glasses to show how the vessel can impact the flavor.

What would you want to get out of a wine tasting for writers?


BrowniesFrom Vylar Kaftan I received a box with three of the densest, heaviest brownies I have ever felt. I have not tried one yet, but the timing couldn’t be better. This is exactly the kind of fuel that will help me survive during this puppet build.

Thank you, Vylar!

Edited to add: I’ve just had the coffee one and it’s fudge and oh-so-good.

Downhill sitting

We bought an office chair for me, which is much more comfortable than the dining room chair that I’d been using. It does introduce an element of excitement to sitting at my desk which I was not expecting. You might remember how my shelves tilted because the floors were severely sloped?

My new chair has wheels.

My desk is on the uphill side of the room. You get the idea.

My House Husband

We knew when we moved out that I would probably find work faster than Rob. The advantage of the whole jack-of-all-trades thing is that I don’t have to look for work in just one field. Rob has a more specialized area. So, for the last several weeks, Rob has been my house husband.

I must tell you that I love this arrangement. When I’m temping, he packs a lunch for me to take to work. He cooks dinner. Does laundry. Shopping. All I have to do are the things that I would want to be doing anyway. Build puppets, design books and write.

The silly boy feels like he’s not “pulling his weight.” Folly! He is giving me enormous peace of mind.

Oh look! A cocktail. le sigh… I love my husband.

Toast Cover

ToastI just got the final art for Charles Stross’s book, Toast, coming out from Wyrm. I’d already done a preliminary layout using the rough draft of the art, so it was easy to drop the final art in place, make a few tweaks and send it over to Neil.

The art is by the talented and very easy to work with Steve Montiglio. I have no understanding of how he works as fast as he does with as much intricate detail. He just delivered the final art weeks before his due date. It makes a girl very happy.

Besides– Giant octopus ships in space! What more could you ask for?

Verdi Square Festival of the Arts

Tonight we took advantage of the Verdi Square Festival of the Arts to enjoy some free opera in the park. Fabulous girl joined Rob and me for the short concert of arias. Though the voices were uneven, there were some really enjoyable performances. Amy Orsulak’s (soprano) “L’altra notte in fondo al mare” had wonderful clarity and strong emotion.

Stephen Gaertner, baritone, did two pieces, both of which were so powerful that I wondered if he really needed the microphones, even though we were standing on top of the subway.

Afterwards, we went out for tapas and conversation. We’ve known Fabulous Girl for years, but most of that time she’s lived in a different town. I think being out, taking advantage of NYC with an old friend made me feel more like I lived here than anything else. At the same time, I couldn’t quite shake the feeling that we had both gotten the same tour package at the travel agency. It’s still hard to believe that I really live here.

The Jolly Book of Fun Craft

Faggot Fun PartyI collect etiquette books, so if you ever need to know what kind of gloves to wear to an afternoon wedding in 1851 or the proper way to say goodbye to a guest in 1907, come to me. One of the prizes in my collection is The Jolly Book of Funcraft by Patten Beard in 1918. It is a book of ideas for parties and the table of contents includes such things as:

  • The Party Made From Almost Nothing At All
  • The Thanksgiving Fun Making
  • Carrot Fun
  • A Plasticine Party
  • The Faggot Party

Oh yes, my dears. What could be more fun, than a Faggot Fun Party.


The thing that makes me laugh most, is the stunning poem at the end and the way it shows just exactly how much words have changed.

The Silent City

The other day, Rob and I went to see part of the Silent City series at the Film Forum. The evening started off with NYC Treasures from the Library of Congress, which was a collection of short subject from 1898 to 1906. They had a live pianist providing accompaniment. Seeing the city bustling around in some ways made me feel as if only the fashions have changed. Granted, they’ve changed a lot, but watching these people in unguarded moments of laughter or frustration made me really aware of how little human nature changes. The fashions though…people definitely dressed better then. One put on a suit and tie to go to Coney Island.

After that collection, we watched Lonsome. Again, set at Coney Island, this film from 1929 is your standard boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy finds girl and they live happily ever after. The male lead, Glenn Tryon, was out of the same mold as Stefan Karl, quite delightfully so. One of the things that fascinated me was how modern the text cards appeared. I’m so used to faux silents with their old timey text, that I’d forgotten how recent these films actually were.

At one point, Our Hero followed the Girl to the beach. He tried to gain her approval by feats of acrobatics and then finally settled down next to her and said, “Hello.”

In sound.

I tell you, the entire audience gasped. It was as if we had never heard a talkie before in our life. This film, which I had thought was a standard silent film, had three minutes of dialogs in it. The moment when he opened his mouth and sound came out was electrifying. I can only imagine how much more it must have been for people who didn’t even know that such things were possible.

So, that thing I said about only the fashions changing isn’t completely true. Technology has given us a lot more possibilities. But it’s awfully nice to know that the sense of wonder can be regained in the right context.

The answer about Iceland

In the question of what would happen for us about Iceland, those of you who voted for the angry sheep have won the day. This was actually my code phrase for “We may be asking for too much money.” Because we have a two year commitment to the apartment in NYC, we needed to be able to make enough money to support two households. In part, because I would have to commute between Iceland and NYC in order to keep the puppetry career moving forward.

We are sad that it couldn’t work out, but living in NYC is not a bad consolation prize.

Coraline: bad pattern. No biscuit.

Gah. I’ve started the build of the real Coralines and the first one I put together had that same gap under the chin. I set it aside and started another–same gap developed. So, the problem is in the pattern. I finished that one and then cut it apart to make a clean pattern. The new heads are going much smoother now.

Lake Chaucer’d (Listen!) : Michael Livingston

MaynryngOooo! More Chaucer’d treats at Michael Livingston’s. This time he’s done Jay Lake’s Mainspring.

Seventene degrees latitude approchynge, Hethor sawe th’Equinoccial Wal for the first time on lyve.

I’m not sure why I find this so endlessly fascinating. Even with such short snippets, I’m starting to feel like I can understand Middle English more, like it’s becoming just an accent.

And yes, that is another cover by me using the Historical Tale Construction Kit. It’s a nice break from the real job. Er, jobs.

Coraline: Correcting a pattern

I thought I wasn’t going to blog about her legs, because the process is the same as her arms. But, wouldn’t you know it, not only am I going to blog about it, but it’ll wind up spanning more than one entry.

Leg testThe process of making the patterns is the same as with the arms. But, I made a mistake with this one, so I thought I would show you how I correct the pattern. You can see how the lower piece, which is her shin, overhangs the top piece on the left side. That’s her kneecap. I wanted those two pieces to make a smooth straight line down the front of her leg.

Trimmed legSo I trimmed it with an exacto and saved the piece that I trimmed off.

Trimmed leg patternI then laid that saved piece on the original pattern, traced it and trimmed it off the pattern. Voila! The next shin I made from the corrected pattern fit perfectly.

Science of Magic – New York Times

Rob sent me the link to this article called, “Science of Magic” in the New York Times It is fascinating and worth reading, even if you have to register.

A sample from page three:

Retreating to a bar at the Imperial Palace, we talked about a different mystery he had been pondering: the role words play inside the brain. Learn a bit of wine speak — “ripe black plums with an accent of earthy leather” — and you are suddenly equipped with anchors to pin down your fleeting gustatory impressions. Words, he suggested, are “like sheepdogs herding ideas.”

That is one of the best definitions I’ve ever heard.

Ah… weddings

I cry at them all the time, I’ll admit. I’ve just returned from Jenny Rae Rappaport’s wedding to Chris LaBrunda and was kicking myself for not bringing a tissue. Jenny and Chris are so clearly in love with each other that I got teary the first time he took her hand in the ceremony. I’m not going to go into copious details about the service, but I will say that the bride was lovely.

Oh, and Rob wore a yarmulke during the service. Looking at him, I thought there might be something to the theory that his grandfather could have been Jewish.

It is so nice when you see a couple in love.