Thursday, November 24, 2011

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Here We Go Again!

It's almost here!

But are you ready?

Yes, as has been reported here in previous years, tomorrow is the third Thursday of November.

Which can only mean one thing: It's "Beaujolais Nouveau Day"!

For an excellent account of the history of this historic day, you can read my previous post from 2009.

If you're too lazy to go there, the short answer is, a long time ago Georges Duboeuf created a world market for the newly bottled wine, which by law cannot be sold until the third Thursday of November. The hype drives the sale of millions of bottles each year.

Yes, I fell for it in 2009. I bought a bottle of Georges Duboeuf. "Wine Spectator" said it was "one of the best vintages on record".

"Fool me once, shame on you."

In 2010, I tripled my error. I bought three bottles of Duboeuf's Nouveau.

I don't know what possessed me.

"Fool me twice, shame on me!"

Truth is, what was once an international sensation has become the butt of wine-blog jokes. Check out this great post at The Ironic Catholic.

Okay, not technically a wine blog, but funny nonetheless.

In 2005, wine-blogger "Vino Joe" of Wine Weekly wrote about this wine sensation.

Captain's note: One should probably not take advice from a so-called wine expert who calls himself, "Vino Joe"!

In describing its taste, Joe noted, "It’s hard to say, because it tastes different every year. Typically, it’s a lot like a kicked-up grape juice. Nouveau will have very bright, fresh, red fruit flavors, such as cherry, strawberry, and raspberry, and will be delivered to your palate with a distinct zing. Because of the lack of tannins, it should be very soft in the mouth, and easy to drink. Beaujolais Nouveau is not a wine to sniff, swirl, and contemplate; it’s a wine to pour and party with. Consider it a beverage accessory."

As I spit out a mouthful of the 2010 Nouveau, I could have sworn I tasted bananas.

In recommending "how" to drink it - [Really? We need to know "how" to drink it?] - "Vino Joe" wrote, "Chilled. Unlike most red wines, you will want to put a Nouveau bottle in the fridge for about 15-20 minutes before drinking, as a slight chill will bring out the fresh flavors. Don’t have the time for that? Pour it over ice cubes!"

Ah, how I long for the good old days of pouring wine over ice and drinking it with a lemon twist!

It gets better, as Joe wrote: "One of the fantastic things about drinking Beaujolais Nouveau is that wine snobs won’t come within 50 feet of it. So, you have the pleasure of performing all sorts of wine sacrilege on it. Drink it on the rocks, out of a plastic cup, with a straw, straight out of the bottle if you want. There’s a whole website devoted to drinking the “wine without rules”, including tips on throwing a Beaujolais Nouveau arrival party."

Um, yeah. No thanks.

So this year, unless I can confirm that the 2011 is truly "a wine to pour and party with", i'm going to resist the urge to try again.

After all, for twice the price, I can get a really good Zin.

One final note:

"For Sale: Vintage bottle of 2010 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau. Like new. Never been opened. Great deal if you like bananas. Best offer. Call the Captain!"

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Oh, How the Mighty Have Fallen!

All I can say is, “Wow!”

And not in a good sense.

Last night, the Penn State Board of Trustees fired head football coach Joe Paterno.

Frankly, I didn’t think they had it in them!

Paterno is a legend at Penn State. After graduating from Brown University in 1950, he took a job as assistant football coach at Penn State. He held that position until 1965, when he was elevated to head coach.

Over his distinguished career, Paterno recorded 409 wins (a record for most Div-1A wins), 136 losses, and 3 ties. He led the Nittany Lions to 24 bowl wins (another record), 2 national championships, and three Big-10 championships. In 2007, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. He has a long list of other honors.

Paterno and his wife have donated more than $4 million to the university, and he has helped raise millions more.

But none of that meant anything this week when, after a two-year investigation, police arrested his former Defensive Coordinator, Jerry Sandusky, on 40 counts of child sexual assault ranging over a period of 15 years.

Guilty by association? Hardly.

In 2002, a graduate assistant reported to Paterno that he witnessed Sandusky performing a sex act on a 10-year-old boy in the team’s shower room. The next day, Paterno reported this to the school’s athletic director.

But not to the Police!

The punishment: Sandusky was formally forbidden to bring children into the team locker room ever again. The university president even signed off on the “punishment”.

“This will go on your permanent record, young man!”

In 2009, Sandusky retired, retaining full emeritus status.

Here’s the really sad part: Sandusky has six adopted children and has fostered many others. And he was a major participant and contributor to a children’s charity called “Second Mile”. Although eight to ten boys have been identified, who knows how many others have been assaulted by this man!

It is a shame Paterno has been fired. He was a good coach.

It is a shame he has to end a life-long career in disgrace. Others, including the University President, have also lost their jobs and credibility due to this scandal.

But none of this would have happened if Paterno had done what he should have back in 2002.

And what should he have done, you ask?

This is where the real Pyrat in me comes out.

He should have cut off Sandusky’s balls and shoved them down his F*****G throat!

“No mercy, no quarter!”

News reports show Penn State students staging protests around Paterno’s firing.

When they have children of their own, they will understand… he got off easy.

UPDATE: Although still claiming innocence, Sandusky has admitted to taking showers with children, "horse-play", and "touching their legs in a non-sexual way".

Frankly, I think he's angling for a "diminished capacity" defense.

How else could an adult justify taking showers with a 10-year-old child?

If he gets off on a "boys will be boys" defense, I'm packing up and leaving!


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Thar Be Treasure to Plunder!

It has come around again.

A movement is once again afoot to replace the paper dollar with a dollar coin.

This has been tried at least three times since the 1979 issue of the Susan B. Anthony, a silver-colored coin that failed because it was too easily confused with the quarter.

In 2000, the gold-colored Sacagawea coin was issued. Doing my part to promote the new coin, I purchased two rolls to make change with at my annual Fat Tuesday party that year. At the end of the evening, I still had two rolls of the new coin.

To make matters worse, later when I tried to spend the “suspect” currency, the low-paid clerks would usually have to call a manager to ask what to do with the coin. There wasn’t a pocket in the cash drawer for a dollar coin.

In 2007, the mint began an issue of U.S. Presidents, 300 million per president. I had collected the states quarters series, so why not the presidential dollars? But when I asked for the new coin at my bank, they hadn’t heard of it.

I gave up.

So why do we keep doing this?

The arguments in favor include the fact that a paper dollar lasts only three years and at the end of its life is shredded and buried in a landfill. A dollar coin lasts 30 years or more and can be recycled at the end of its life.

The General Accounting Office says a dollar coin would save $5.5 billion over the next 30 years. The GAO admits, however, that for the first 10 years it would lose money, and the actual savings (averaging $184 million per year) would be but a drop in the bucket.

Plus, more and more vending machine choices cost a dollar. And who among us hasn’t grown frustrated when the machine won’t take our paper dollar because a corner is bent!

Those opposed don’t like the idea because… well… it’s something different. And in America, we don’t really like things to be different.

I kind of like the idea of a dollar coin. Being a Pyrat at heart, I like the image of piles of gold coins spilling out of treasure chests.

Paper dollars just don’t have the same romance.

I still have a small stack of Ikes that my great-grandfather would give us every year at Christmas. There was something special about the big silver coin that made me not want to spend it.

I don’t have that problem with paper dollars!

And because of their potential longevity, holding an old coin is like holding a piece of history. Think about it: what treasure hunter would search the ocean floor knowing that a ship laden with paper dollars sank in a storm some 200 years ago?

And remember your first Penny Loafers? I do. I was in seminary. Karen had dug through piles of pennies to find two lucky coins with my birth year on them to put in my shoes. Then a thief broke into our home and stole them (along with almost everything else we owned at the time) right after I had finally broken in the stiff leather soles.

Okay, maybe they were not-so-lucky coins!

The down-side of dollar coins is that I hate carrying coins in my pockets. Right now I am sitting on a wallet containing eight paper bills. I wouldn’t want to carry the equivalent in coins in my pocket. We’d have to go back to the leather pouch tied to our belts, and that would probably be awkward.

Congress keeps approving new issues, and the Mint keeps producing them, but until the government actually stops printing the paper dollars, I don’t see dollar coins catching on. Collectors will collect them, but the rest of the issue will join the billion or more dollar coins from the recent past locked away in the Federal Reserve vaults.