Monday, October 5, 2009

Making homemade wine


I assume that women initially suggest the making of homemade wine as most men I know like beer a lot more than wine.  And it's a couples thing to do, isn't it?  If you thought of a single man or woman bottling wine by themselves, it would seem like a sad act, done alone in a dingy basement with only the cats for company.  If a single guy or girl started talking about bottling 47 bottles of Merlot over the weekend, they would be looked on with pity and thought to be a complete alcoholic/sad loser type.

Making homemade wine is strictly a Romantic Couple thing to do because a bottle of wine invokes the image of two people in love, bonding and chatting together during the bottling process, riding bicycles together on warm summer nights.  When it finally comes time to drink the fruits of your collective labour, it makes sense to have a romantic, candlelight dinner where your inhibitions lower as quickly as the bottle does.  

So now it's a thinly veiled way to say that you got laid this weekend to your co-workers on Monday.

"What did you and your wife do this weekend, Phil?"
"Oh, we bottled some wine and then I grilled some steak, nothing much,"  (this followed by the memory of trying to undress your partner as if struggling to remove cellophane from some large product.)

Ah, good times.

And that's all well and good.  Shag on, my friends.  Shag on.  Until you get to this next stage. 

I find it hard to believe that you're going to make 422 bottles of wine and over the course of the next year or so have 422 drunken, wistful, candlelit sessions together.  Seems a rather elaborate and long-drawn-out way to get laid.  

And because I have at least three separate close family members who do make their own wine, I can tell you exactly what they do with it.

They try to give it away.

Fuck no.

Now you had to go and get me involved in your love/wine-making sessions and I have to tell you, I want no part of it.  

I have to admit, I am mystified by the whole wine-making phenomena.  I mean, I totally do not understand it.  If you really like wine, would you not prefer quality wine?  I know I do.  And I'm not talking about expense here because a bottle of Naked Grape is under $10 and it's delicious.  My "high class choices" are no more than $20 because I have learned I cannot tell the difference between a bottle of $15 Wolf Blass Yellow Label and a $100 bottle of some French Reserve wine from 1993.

That being said, I can tell a bottle of homemade wine (only cost $1.27 to make!) and what I privately refer to as real wine a mile away.  And no matter how nice your family and friends are about it, your wine really isn't that good, I have to tell you.  Plus, buying a kit at a wine shop isn't like owning a vineyard, so please stop telling everyone how much better your homemade wine is from every other homemade wine in the world because all of you shop at the exact same place and the variations of your wine are all strikingly similar (read: vile.)

Other people are taking it because it's free and it's alcohol, which makes it a win/win combination in most any social situation.  But they are only chugging it as an express way to get drunk and frankly, I'd rather chug straight vodka if I were that determined to get drunk in the shortest and tasteless amount of time possible. 

And if you wine makers don't do it for the taste, why are you all so effing snobby about it?  Especially about Blush wine (not real wine.)  Oh, like your cheap crap is?  And that I should be ashamed that I brought those bottles of Arbor Mist to the party and it was in poor taste for me to spout: "Arbor Mist, drink two bottles and you'll be Arbor pissed."  

Maybe you were just seething with resentment that even the blush was gobbled up faster than your rubbish homemade stuff, which you were stiffly and pointedly drinking from your own glass as if personally affronted that anyone should bring an offering of wine made from someplace that actually knows what its doing (yeah, I wouldn't normally consider sugar-coated, 6% alco-pop wine in this category, but compared to homemade?  You left me no choice.)  Oh, and you made a label for your "bottling company" on your computer that is some clever variation of your combined couple name, initials or similar.  Marvelous, darlings.  Your wit is as dry as your wine and with the same bitter aftertaste. 

The absolute worst offense is that in retaliation for anyone offering real wine anywhere, is for you people to cart around several bottles of your homemade stuff to any social gathering or family function you can, even if said person throwing the gathering has made it clear that they have a fully stocked wine cellar, their own bar filled with hard liquor and a beer fridge.

Why?  Why do you do this?  Then you leave a bottle or two behind (only 419 bottles left to get rid of, hurray!) and I have to tell you, trying to find takers to get that swill out of my house is like trying to convince someone to swallow condoms filled with cocaine and go meet Servio in Guatemala for me.  I have even shamelessly tried to press these "forgotten" bottles on the most drunken and indiscriminating of my friends at the end of an evening with no takers.

"Kim, you take it.  You drink white wine."  (As if I don't.)
"What ish it?  Ugh, you know, I can't even *think* about drinking wine right now, plus my husband doesn't drink wine and I don't have room in my fridge for it and I am about to take up religious vows so I wouldn't be partaking in spirits...or maybe I'm about to become a Ghost Hunter and I'm thinking of those spirits.  God, I love that show.  Those inferred red (christ, I'm drunk) infrared thermal imagining scans where you see the ghosts moving in an empty room are awesome.  They freak me out.  So anyway, I think I see my cab coming three blocks down so I better figure out how to tie my shoes.  Oh, I'm wearing flip flops, that's funny.   Ha ha ha, that's so funny.  So although it's a kindly offer, no, don't try to pawn this shit off on me, thank-you-very-much." 

Damn.  Totally understandable.  But damn.  So now we wouldn't be trying to pawn that shit off me now either, will we?

We can all breathe a little easier now.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Women like to shop (I'm really living up to my new header here.)  We like to get brand-name merchandise for low, low, clear-out prices. Then we can brag about how we found an eider duck down duvet being cleared out of some warehouse in Michigan and how we bought it in King Size because we will have a King Sized bed eventually.  At any rate, we're always cold so having an extra-large blanket on our bed was no bad thing.

I think I can safely say I have stopped talking about all women and am just talking about myself at this point.

I admit I don't like Craigslist as much as eBay.  I like the format of eBay much better and bidding on auctions as opposed to just emailing some stranger back and forth appeals to me.  Sunday nights you can see me counting down minutes to swoop in to win an item  (because someone told the world that sellers get the most money by having their auctions end on a Sunday night, hence almost all auctions end sometime between 4 pm and midnight CST.)

There's a fine calculation when you eBay - you want to bid at the last possible moment.  Like dismantaling a bomb in the movies.  You can't just do it right when you get there, you have to check out the timer, set your watch and come back in the final moments.  You don't want someone else who was winning the auction to get a red-alert email telling them that they have, in fact, been out-bid.  Until it's far too late for them to do anything about it, of course.  It would be idiotic for you to have handed them 1) enough time to bid again and 2) time to drive up the price.

It's an art form.  That sounds refined, doesn't it?  Quietly sipping your wine, tapping fingers gracefully across the keyboard, Bach playing in the background and a fireplace casting warmth and light across the wood-paneled room.  Yeah, right.

eBaying is Blood Sport for Women.   That's why they call them "eBay Wars" -  clear the desk, no distractions, pared done to the essentials and every minute counts until you make your move.  I have been known to wail:  "I can't believe I was outbid by 52¢!  Damn it, now I have to start all over again!"

Similarly, I've been known to yell: "In your face, bitch!  It's mine, all mine!"  (insert manical laughter) I also like to say: "In your face, bitch!" at least one more time, because there are so few opportunities in my life to utter those words.  I would say I get untold satisfaction from it, except I just told you about it. 

I also like to go over the play-by-play of my eBay ninja moves to bring extra-helpings of tedium into my friends' lives.  While they are futilely glancing at their watches and clearing their throats, I gloss over the money I saved (not much, especially after shipping to Canada) and instead focus on what's really important here: I won.  Surpringly, no one has offered to throw me a ticker tape parade for revealing such startling news.  The most I get is a lukewarm: "Good for you.  Can we go now?"

Doesn't matter.  Whoever doesn't BIN me makes me stronger.  eBaying well is the victory lunge breaking the red tape with your arms in the air.  To sweeten the deal even further, you get an automated reply that says: "congratulations, you won the item."  Seriously, how often do people congratulate you?  You have to have done something super-amazing to be congratulated.  But eBay tells you that every single time you win.  Some call it insidious marketing (auction losers) but I just call it good bidding.

With that, I will bid you (groan) a good day.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


crying woman

Here is another instance of the differences between men and women.  Men don't go out of their way to cry and they certainly wouldn't pay money and bring along a carefully prepped small ziplock bag filled with Kleenex to the movie theater.  (The ziplock bag keeps the Kleenex from getting dirty, because yes, there are sites out there that tell you the best way to carry your Kleenex around.) 

And now I'm one of them.  Damn.

Moving swiftly along,  there is a genre of movies, books and blogs that exist in the "tearjerker" category.   Unabashedly sentimental, pulling on your heart strings, gushy sweet things that cause your eyes to swell up and transparent drippy snot to come out  of your nose.

Even better is a tearjerker book that is turned into a movie, like My Sister's Keeper.  Then you can cry twice.  Sweet.  Through your tears you can shakily gasp out how the book was different from the movie because they changed the ending.  But you still cried.  Obviously.

If you're uncertain if you are seeing a tearjerker, check for the dead dude.  Every once in a while, if I am trying to maneuver my husband into seeing a tearjerker, I tell him about the movie and try to entice him by mentioning the hot chick in the movie, if there is one.  (By the way, pickings are slim in the Tearjerker + Hot Lead Actress category.)

These are the movies I am itching to rent on DVD (even I wouldn't be so idiotic as to try to make him pay for an $8 movie ticket -  I figure the low rental cost balances out the "2-plus-hours-of-my-life-I-wasted-on-that-rubbish" response that I am almost guaranteed to hear afterward.)
Usually the title is the dead giveaway, though (dead giveaway, get it?  huh huh?)  and Karl pulls out the Death-O-Meter:

"Is someone dying in this movie?" (Instantly his Death-O-Meter has swung over to "Doornail" setting.)

(Me frantically avoiding eye contact:)  "Um, maybe.  I haven't seen it yet."

(This is usually a lie, I saw it in the theater with girlfriends but now would like to really sob it out in the privacy of my own home.  Also, I might have missed some of the sappy dialog and I have to support fellow writers so really, it's my duty to watch P.S. I love you again.)
 "Did you read the book?"

Confess?  Never.  Demure some more.  "I read a lot of books."

 "Well, I don't want to watch it."

If someone croaks, it's okay to cry.  If they allude to someone croaking (a life-threatening or incurable illness, especially in a little kid) it's definitely okay to cry.  If an offshoot character dies in order to bring the two leads together again - sob away.  It's also very acceptable to start crying if a beloved family pet dies.  If you start tearing up when you hear those Irish flutes playing Celine Dion's "My heart will go on" in Titanic (even though you hate Celine Dion and it's totally against your will) - still, I wouldn't judge you.

But if you're weeping at 27 Dresses, you're reading way too much into that movie.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009



Scratch that.  We hate dieting.  We'd actually love it if that super skinny bitch at the gym that you hope is anorexic-even-though-you-know-she-really-isn't would gain 10 lbs.  Even better would be 20 lbs.  Or at least get a pimple or something.  Throw us a fricking bone.

But if you're a woman, you've been on a diet.  It's the rite of fat passage that no one ever tells you about when you are five that eventually you will have to go through.  No one ever sat me down and said:

"Now Tara, we're going to talk about your BMI."
"What's BMI?" I am 10 or 12 or 15 and on the whole, not very interested in abbreviated words.
"Body Fat Index.  Now, you're alright now (dubious glance at my thick thighs) but one day you will have to go on a diet.  Now, they teach you about food and nutrition at school, don't they?  You exercise in gym class?  And you love your hulu hoop.  Now, just keep your metabolism high and forget about that bag of Halloween candy, that's confiscated.  Oh and remember food isn't love.  Let's see, anything else?  Right, your hormones (shifts uncomfortably from one foot to the other.)  Yeah, those.  Um...well, once a month you're probably going to want to pig out on chocolate and chinese food (in that order); you should test your iron levels, maybe.  Don't go too far, you need to strike a good balance.  Better to be closer to the thin border than the fat border, though.  There's a range (starving self conjures up images of this range, hopefully where there's a chicken I can strangle or at the very least a cheese wheel I can frisk away to munch on top of a hay bale and eat until my heart's content...or my stomach's content, whichever comes first).  But apparently this "range" isn't about high yield maxi-farming, worse luck for me.  It's about healthy weight (which conjures up images of shucking corn, acres and acres of corn you have to walk barefooted through on a hot dry day with no end in sight.)  If that sounds like a dismal existance; trust me, it is.
But no one did have that conversation with me.   All they said was that I was cute and fine just the way I was (although looking at some old family photos, the cute part was definitely "in the eye of the beholder".)   Or when I got braces, at least they can console you with the fact it's temporary.

People have the same attitude towards fat - it's a temporary setback, nothing that a few days or weeks of dieting and exercising wouldn't cure.  Rest up and eat now, it's going to be a long haul,  but - cue Little Orphan Annie singing the chubby girl national anthem - Tomorrow, we are getting down to business. 

And we do get down to business.  And it is a business.  Not just zillions of weight-loss places that will gladly take your money for common sense stuff that you can pull for free off the internet, but all the behind-the-scenes footage that goes on.  Menu planning, grocery shopping, calorie counting, fat counting, counting how many calories are burned during a work out, making a cheerful ticker as your signiture on that board you frequent to show the world that you're engaged in this grizzly bear struggle against obesity armed with a Lean Cuisine and a salad bowl full of good intentions.

You also come armed with startling, semi-scientific facts that you have gleaned during your struggle with adversity.  They may be real facts.  You haven't checked them out.  They sounded good and are buoyantly reassuring and who can gainsay that?  Who would dare willingly come within a ten-foot radius of a known dieting woman?  If someone dared tease the lioness, they would soon run away making small dog "yip yip yip yip" noises after being torn a new one, and that's a fact.*

*This is not a verifible fact due to insufficent research done in the area.  Apparently there was a lack of volunteers willing to test this theory.  Thus, it remains unproven. 

Monday, August 24, 2009

Drew Barrymore

Drew Barrymore Picture

The queen of chick flicks (or at least one of the reigning princesses) - women like Drew Barrymore.  Aside from her obvious acting ability, she's got all the qualities people look for in a celebrity.    Women especially like that she's not drop-dead gorgeous.  She's cute, yes.  But ask any man his Top Five Women from his "gimme" list and Drew's name is conspicuosly absent.  Kate Beckinsale, Scarlett Johansson, Angelina Jolie, Carmen Electra - these are the names and images that men like to conjure up when thinking of some hot celebrity bent on ravaging their poor (but distended) flesh.

Ask any man about Drew.  It ranges from "meh, she's alright" to "oh yeah, I forgot about her.  She's got a pretty hot body, right?"  Her girl-next-door look gives her a quality women like:  accessibility.

Plus, she had issues.  Oh, poor Drew, did she ever have issues.  A shitty childhood that landed her in rehab at the age of 13, a few failed relationships and a hasty "what was that all about" marriage to Tom Green.  Whatever.  We could forgive her choice in those fugly men, even though we knew she deserved better and was worth more.  What woman doesn't see the beacon of insecurity in another woman as our own personal Bat Signal and swoop in to help?  These things made us like her even more.

Shee also had problems with her Mom.  "Hey, I have problems with my Mom, too!"  or if not your Mom, certainly your mother-in-law.  And if you're ridiculously happy with your Mom and your mother-in-law, you can go here.   Otherwise, you know that Drew Barrymore has that quality called relatability, which not only endures her to the masses, but translates into box office gold.