Sunday, June 12, 2005

I'm Looking For A UB40 Red Red Wine kinda Wine

shadow on water
Originally uploaded by chrisbreitenbach.
Is there any better way to start your day then with a trip to Chicagoland’s wine and spirits superstore, Sam’s?

We got there around 11:00 this morning, stepping out of our ailing Rav- 4 and into the thick, wooly blanket of heat that’s hovered over Chicago for the past 5 or 6 days. A guy was throwing bags of ice from a delivery truck just off to the right of the store’s entrance. He’d lunge into the walls of bagged ice densely packed into the truck, lift, pivot and heave, the bags making a delightful arc (at least I thought so) before meeting their fate with an enchantingly watery thud on the steamy blacktop.

What I like most about Sam’s is to just wander the wine aisles admiring all the wine. Because they’ve so rarely done me wrong, I always check in on Chilean wines first. We’ve gambled on and enjoyed dozens of good Chilean wines for under $10 over the last 5-years or so, in fact, they played a vital role in our wedding considerations back in the day. Nothing says, “Why not? Let’s get married!” like a good Chilean merlot and we're proof of that. I bought a couple this morning, but I couldn’t tell you what they were called or what vineyards they might have come from. Cathy and I have long lamented our laxity when it comes to writing down the name of a good wine and have been too quick to recycle the bottle. Because some of those wines were damn good! Once, I decided to combat our neglect by taking some notes, jotting down some quick impressions every now and again about what we we may have liked about a particular wine (“Made talking about combined sewer overflows while simultaneously eating dinner surprisingly appetizing and not gross at all!”) but I never made it past the first few.

We talked to a couple Sam’s employees. There seemed to be hundreds of them there, two to three per aisle and so, so very willing to be of service. We had a guy recommend some Chilean wine for us. The only part of that conversation that I remember went like this:

“…some people like medium-bodied…”

“Yeah, that sounds great!”

Then we wondered into the Australian aisle, hoping to find an interesting Shiraz, which is another way of saying we wanted something cheap but tasty. There we met another employee. They’re almost always male, these clerks, and most of them seem to know their shit. I imagine the staff greeting each other at the beginning of each shift with a hearty, “In vino veratas!” and a high five. I remember more of this conversation. There was this:

“Do your drink Australian wines?”


And later there was this:

“Yeah, pinot noir’s are very big right now, very popular.”

“It’s because of that damn movie, isn’t it?”

“Yeah! Yeah!”

He told me to try this one, whatever it was, and I was easily convinced though was $1.99 over our usual $10 limit. Then he told me how to really enjoy it. Chill it for about 45 minutes prior to serving. He reassured me that while this was an odd request given that it was a red and all, it was a countenanced practice amongst those in the know. You don’t serve it chilled though. Let it sit for about 15 minutes after the 45 in the fridge. Then serve it. Very refreshing on hot days like the ones we’ve been having.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

This Calling Bell

Originally uploaded by chrisbreitenbach.
I got some good news in the mail earlier this week. Thankfully, not knowing it was Caesar who crossed the Rubicon in such a way, and with such momentous consequences, as to be analogous to George Washington’s own crossing of the Delaware, did me no harm. That I did well doesn’t guarantee university acceptance, though it does mean I’ve successfully jumped through a vital admissions hoop and managed to land upright, a biscuit artfully balanced atop my nose.

So, now there is more waiting. I know the mail arrives on most weekdays between 2:00 and 2:30 in the afternoon.

And there’s Hilton Head. In celebration of Lou Lou’s 60th birthday. Whole family under one roof, a hundred yards from the beach and just a week from today. I’m making a mini-documentary of the whole thing. (Honest! Wait to you see it. It’s gonna be good, and much, much funnier then the first one.) Which reminds me, my incredible nephew, Ethan, is taking, simply because he’s curious little kid, a super cool summer school class focused on making your own movie sets. How very cool is this? “Okay, kids, listen up please! Eyes up here. We’re going to begin today by using the props I’ve brought in to recreate as best we can the set design from the opening scene of Hannah and Her Sisters!” What child doesn’t adore that movie and Woody Allen in general? The kids are crazy about him! I’m truly surprised that there’s never been a “Little Woody” cartoon, something suitable for, say, PBS. Episodes would follow the endearingly neurotic adventures of Little Woody with plenty of opportunities for wry, existential musings about monsters in the closet, the potential consequences of committing Onan’s sin and death. Sounds like Radio Days to me, but still…

We have Wearemonster and wearehappy. And, if that wasn’t cool enough, Cathy just turned the air conditioner on.

If you’re like me and find this administration’s chronic exaggerations on how progress is coming along with the building of an autonomous Iraqi army both maddening and utterly fraudulent (let alone dangerously delusional), take a look at this bullshit repellent from yesterday’s Washington Post. The Administration line is delivered by Maj. Gen. Josehph J. Taluto who reassures us that there will be plenty of qualified Iraqi fighting men come fall- “I can tell you, making assessments, I know we’re on target.” Everything is fine, these aren’t the droids you’re looking for. Move along!” The U.S. military currently says there are over 169,000 thousand Iraqi military and police who are “trained and equipped.” But the truth, I think, is conveyed by one of the platoon sergeant’s involved in the training and who readily admits that he and his fellow soldiers “like to refer to the Iraqi army as preschoolers with guns.” Most estimate that the number of realistically “trained and equipped” Iraqi soldiers, that is, soldiers who could act autonomously of U.S. support and fulfill similar missions, is around 10,000 at most.

I’ve read dozens of articles over the months regarding this attempt by the U.S. military to train Iraqi soldiers. And in reading these pieces, it’s made stunningly clear that this undertaking, like so many of our adventures in Iraq, isn’t going well. Frustrated commanders on the ground, Iraqi leaders and anonymous insider sources all thread through these articles and offer assessments bluntly contradicting those made by the administration.

Lastly, we’re having a BBQ on Sunday. Summer has arrived. And Happy Birthday to Big Art, who will be grilling out on the deck in Bay Village tonight.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Green Roof

Green Roof
Originally uploaded by chrisbreitenbach.
Got to go up on and check out the Green roof of City Hall this morning at 9:00. It’s much larger then I had imagined and even more impressive. We spent about a half hour wandering around. One fun fact I came away with- on a hot summer day the other half of City Hall, which isn’t green and is your typical black tarred roof, can get as hot as 170 degrees Fahrenheit while the green side rarely rises above 90.