A Random Thought Experiment

If you could only pick one, which would you choose and forego all the rest? Could you give any of these up permanently? That is the question you must answer in our random little thought experiment.

Below are six categories that comprise much of our produced entertainment opportunities (I’ve skipped sports, outdoor activities, social media, etc.). The idea of this thought experiment is to pick only one of these six for the rest of your life. The ones you don’t choose, you can never do again.

First, let’s acknowledge that many of these forms of entertainment overlap, intersect and meld together. That’s inescapable. Second, if you have a problem with the exact details, write to: c/o: Nobody Here at 123 So What Lane, Nevercareville,  North Dakota. Your letter will be thoughtfully and painstakingly ignored.

So, remember you can only pick one of these at the expense of the other five. Are you prepared to take the challenge? I don’t think you can do it, quite frankly. These are all too much a part of our lives, there is too much at stake. Good luck. You’ll need it.

Books/Comics Included:All published books in print or online; all comic books; all graphic novels; all audio books; all books on portable readers (e.g. Kindle). Not included: Books on fire at the neighborhood book burning (too hot to handle).

StageIncluded: all live stage productions (musical, drama, stand-up comedy, poetry/book readings, circus); all stage productions found on DVD/video or online. Not included: Anything just mentioned found on TV; musical soundtracks of stage productions.

TelevisionIncluded: All shows produced by and for television/cable networks (dramas, sitcoms, cartoons, reality, game shows, talk shows) either watched on television, internet or DVD; news and sports on TV; the edited movies shown on the prime time networks; made for TV movies; mini-series documentaries; music videos shown on TV; live concerts shown on TV; stand-up comedy shown on TV. Not included: Pay-per-view movies; music videos found online or anywhere outside of TV; Cop Rock (it should go without saying).

MoviesIncluded: All movies (foreign and domestic) and documentaries released in theatres; all direct to DVD/video movies; all pay-per-view movies on TV; all movies downloaded from the internet; all movies shown on airplanes/trains/buses. Not included: Made for TV movies; anything by Ed Wood (obviously).

MusicIncluded: All music released on CDs, vinyl, or internet; all music found on online music services; live concerts; concerts on DVDs/video or online;  movie or stage production soundtracks; music videos online or on DVD/video. Not included: Anything just mentioned that is shown on TV (e.g. sorry Canadians, no Much Music); audio books.

Video gamesIncluded: all video games on gaming consoles or computers; all video games on cell phones; all video games on portable devices. Not included: Video games played on TV at home or in hotel rooms; Elf Bowling (as fun as it might be…).


So, which would I pick, since I started this little thinking game? I’m honestly not sure I can pick only one. First, I would exclude video games and stage. I’ve played my share of video games, but I don’t play much anymore. I’ve seen quite a number of plays and musicals, etc. but it’s something that I could live without.

So, books, music, movies or television? Yikes…to be continued.

Random iPod Playlist: Simple Criterion

There is only one simple criterion for this playlist. It must be a song from a band or artist that I’ve seen in concert so far in 2009.

  1. “American Pie” (Don McLean) covered by Garth Brooks* (at National Mall)
  2. “Pride (In the Name of Love)” by U2* (at National Mall)
  3. “Higher Ground” (Stevie Wonder) covered by Stevie Wonder, Shakira and Usher* (at National Mall)
  4. “One Love” (Bob Marley) covered by Herbie Hancock, will.i.am and Sheryl Crow* (at National Mall)
  5. “Listen to the Math” by Tokyo Police Club (at Black Cat)
  6. “Stop the Show” by Scythian (at RFK Stadium – Shamrock Fest 2009)
  7. “What About Everything?” by Carbon Leaf (at RFK Stadium – Shamrock Fest 2009)
  8. “Great DJ” by the Ting Tings (at 9:30 Club)
  9. “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” (Pat Benatar) covered by The Reflex (at 9:30 Club)
  10. “I Am, I Said” (Neil Diamond) covered by Super Diamond (at 9:30 Club)
  11. “The Geeks Were Right” by The Faint (at 9:30 Club)
  12. “Runaway” by Ladytron (at 9:30 Club)
  13. “Show Me How To Live ” (Audioslave) by Chris Cornell solo (at 9:30 Club)
  14. “Song Beneath the Song” by Maria Taylor (at Rock n’ Roll Hotel)
  15. “The Fear” by Lily Allen (at 9:30 Club)
  16. “Messages” by Filthy Dukes (at Vibe Bar, London)
  17. “That’s Not My Name” by the Ting Tings (at 02 Academy Brixton – London)
  18. “4 Songs & A Fight” by The Sounds (at Nissan Pavilion)
  19. “That’s What You Get” by Paramore (at Nissan Pavilion)
  20. “Sunday Morning” by No Doubt (at Nissan Pavilion)

Start dancing. Sing karaoke. Make the world a better place. Anything. Just please get to it. 

* From Barrack Obama’s Presidential Inauguration celebration concert “We Are One”.

The Enomatic Destroys Middleburg and other tales from the vine

When you gather a group of wannabe sommeliers and turn them loose in Northern Virginia wine country, strange things are bound to happen. These events are real, and the names have not been changed to protect anyone.

So begins a robust blending of the noble and the elegant from the 4th Annual Running of the DC Wine Tasters:

We are winos – much wine was consumed throughout the day. Much recovery was needed. If you read no further, at least know this.

The Enomatic Wine Serving System – this big contraption at the Boxwood Winery tasting room in Middleburg contains dozens of bottles of wine. You stick in your $20 pre-paid card, push a button for a 1, 3 or 5 ounce pour and BAM you’ve got a huge mess on your hands. You forgot to put the wine glass under the spigot. Can’t you follow instructions? The other disadvantage of this cold, shiny HAL impersonator, is that there is no human touch or detailed explanation of the wines you are tasting. Sure, you can’t complain too much with all that wine at your fingertips, but it’s all very pricey. I’ll stick to the old school tastings, thank you very much!

Mariposas and papillons– at Chrysalis Vineyards we had a good German sommelier (schmetterling) educate us on their various offerings. 12 wines, mostly reds, were tasted with much lip pursing and pinky finger raising. Given the name of the vineyard, the names of many of the wines in other languages, and the bottle label depicting a women with butterfly wings, it is clear they love themselves some butterflies.

Norton Hears a Who – did you know that Virginia has a native grape called Norton? Chrysalis grows 40 acres ands sells them to other vineyards. Because it’s native to America, they affectionately called it the “In-Your-Face” grape…

Goombas and grapes– sure the Quattro Goombas (4 friends) winery had regular crackers, but they exceeded all expectations by adding chocolate morsels to the tasting mix. We. Are. Your Friends. They get most of their grapes from California and Chile, but they thought they would get into the game for real and plant their own grapes this year (it will be 3-5 years before the vines are ready). Also try their sangria, if you dare. And the chocolate pate. And the cheese loaf and crackers. And maybe some more wine.

Breaking bread – a nice stop for lunch at Hunter’s Head Tavern broke the day up just as it was about to start pouring rain. Luckily the rain didn’t last. The warm, crusty bread served at the table didn’t last either. More please.

Not your average Swedish Bikini team – Swedenburg Estate Vineyard blasted through the tasting with little commentary and little time to savor their wines. Strictly an in and out operation. No bikini team either…sigh.

Milwaukee’s Best – nothing like an end-of-day sampling of sweets at Milwaukee Frozen Custard to jump-start a much needed suger rush.

Random Stats:

  • Number of days on wine tour = 1
  • Number of wineries visited = 4
  • Number of bottles of wine consumed = Unquantifiable
  • Surviving the Enomatic = Priceless

A Camper’s Delight and Other Random Recipes for Success

You’ve awakened, against your will, in the middle of a campsite. There’s a tent nearby. (Why aren’t you in it?) Someone is stoking a crackling fresh fire. A picnic table is being wiped off. Camp chairs set up. A folding camp stove transforms to life. Bugs buzz. Caterpillars crawl. Rain drizzles. It’s all in your periphery. You can sense them all. Feel them. But what is it that you see right in front of you? Where has your sleep walking taken you? To the bags and coolers full of delicious, delicious food. Time to fight off the bears, its chow time!

Camping food you cannot do without

Hobo’s stew – meat, butter, potatoes, carrots, butter, onions, butter, salt, and pepper all wrapped in tin foil, lightly coated in butter, and thrust into the coals of your blazing fire. Pull it out, unwrap and swoon.

S’mores – Hershey’s chocolate squares and gooey toasted marshmallows squished between two graham crackers. Slip in some strawberries for a new sensation.

Bacon, eggs and coffee – in exactly that order.

Beer – I cannot stress how critical the perfect beer style, in just the right quantity, is for your camping experience. Minimum of 2-3 coolers full. Can be substituted for a bottle of wine in a pinch.

Hot dogs – good for baseball games and camping trips. Add chile or cream cheese and you’re sure to be a contestant on the next season of Top Chef.

Munchies – Doritos, gummy worms, cracker jacks, granola bars, beef jerky, berries, trail mix, or whatever you so desire, as long as there are lots and lots of options for your many, many moods. You will never eat as much in life as you do when you’re camping.

Mickey Mouse pancakes – wait…your Dad didn’t make you pancakes shaped like Mickey Mouse’s head while camping? That explains a lot.

Squeezable tube of peanut butter and jelly and a smashed loaf of white bread – not just for kids, this is fun for the whole family!


Camping food you can throw to distract the bears as you run away

Bacon chocolate – combining two brilliant things together does not equal one brilliant thing.

Freeze dried food – you are not an astronaut. You are not overnight hiking 20 miles a day. So don’t intentionally eat this crap! Ice cream sandwiches are not meant to be crispy.

Instant Top Ramen Noodles – you are not in Boy Scouts nor are you a broke college freshman anymore. You have a real job, with real wages. Now act like it and stop buying this nasty instant stuff.

Slop Soup – throw all of your leftovers into a big boiling pot. Remove from fire, hang from tree and run. The bears have lost patience.