Saturday, August 16, 2008

In Praise of The Palmer.

Over the course of my lifetime (thus far), I've drunk a lot of different tea-based beverages. From Tibetan Sherpa tea to Long Island Iced Tea, I've had them all. But, if I were forced to name the best tea ever, the choice would be simple: a well-crafted Arnold Palmer.

Quaffing one always makes me wonder: is there a finer non-alcoholic beverage on the planet? I certainly don't think so. A 50/50 blend of tea and lemonade, the Arnie is a perfect balance between the sweet and the tart. It refreshes and invigorates, and always leaves me wanting another.

When it comes to alcoholic beverages, I am a big-time fan of German Weissbier (or wheat beers). An Arnold Palmer is a close as you can get to a great Weissbier without the booze. Something to keep in mind when you've been tapped as the designated driver.

Even if he wasn't such a great duffer, the fact that Arnold Palmer 'invented' this drink makes him a legend in my book. Thanks, Arnie!

Become a legend in my mind: go vote for me at

Gotta Love Grapevine.

I finished up my week in Texas in the quaint little town of Grapevine. Located just north of DFW, Grapevine came into existence in 1844, one year before Texas became a state.

Grapevine's motto is "A Drinking Town With a History Problem". Now, you've gotta love a town like that! Combine this with Austin's motto, "Keep Austin Weird", and you've got the beginnings of a pretty forceful argument that Texas is a great place to live!

In the heart of Grapevine is a great wine shop, Off the Vine, that's conveniently situated next door to the wine bar/restaurant, Into the Glass. Given that the folks behind Off the Vine are proud of their Irish heritage, (the owner, Holly, is married to an Irishman, and and employee, Cella, is from Dublin), and that Into the Glass owner, Dwayne, revels in the tasty and obscure (and features fried okra as a regular menu item), and you can begin to understand why I'm a fan of both.

If you find yourself in the DFW area, go check out the town of Grapevine. You'll be glad you did...I sure was!

And I'd be glad if you now click on and rate my posts. The more you rate 'em, the higher my standings!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

You Know You're in Texas.

There have been times during my travels that I've momentarily forgotten what city or state I am in. Traveling as much as I do, things tend to blur. I can be walking into a wine shop in Tampa and think it looks just like the store I was in in Winnetka.

Fortunately, Texas offers wine making road warriors tell-tale clues as to where you are at all times. Case in point:

Yep. When a woman shows up to a wine tasting wearing shorts and cowboy can bet your ass you're in Texas!

Now go laugh your ass off at

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Worst. Crab Cake. EVER!

Spent the bulk of my Monday flying from San Luis Obispo to Houston, and by the time I had checked into my hotel (The Hotel Derek) I opted to stay on-property for my dinner. Walked down to Bistro Moderne and settled on a light dinner...Gazpacho to start, and their "Blue Crab Cake" entrée, a photo of which I've included here.

If you ever find yourself at Bistro Moderne and find yourself in the mood for a crab cake, let me offer one word of advice: "Don't!"

You would think that a crab cake would at least contain a very high percentage of crab. Not at Bistro Moderne. This entrée could be better described on the menu as "bread flakes with a suggestion of crab, deep fried in a rancid oil". I actually found myself playing a little game while I took another bite: try to find some crabmeat. What little crab there was in this meal exhibited signs that it was recently revived from a long freeze, and lacked consistency, taste and any visual clue that it was once crab.

The cake (more like a hockey puck than a crab cake) was accompanied by spaghetti squash sautéed with green and red bell peppers. This dish looked and tasted like it was prepared days ago, and had the consistency of mush. As a matter of fact the entire plate could be featured as an 'early bird special' for folks with bad dentures...if not for the fact that the crab cake was breaded and fried in a manner which resulted in a very hard crust.

Tired and defeated, I grabbed my open bottle of rosé and headed back up to my room. A memorable meal...for all the wrong reasons.

Never been disappointed by the fare over at, though.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Hey, Bud!

I love my iPhone. With its introduction, Steve Jobs & company provided me the means to pack lighter on my travels. Goodbye, Palm Pilot! Sayonara, digital camera! Aufweidershein, iPod! And, when I'm really feeling sassy, adios, laptop! In these times when/where technological gadgets often don't live up to the hype, the Apple iPhone has really delivered.

The phone certainly has delivered. The headset that comes with phone is another thing entirely. In a word, the headset sucks. In two words? Sucks donkies.

I've owned an iPhone for a little more than a year, and I've gone through four - that's right, four - headsets. They all have the same fundamental design flaw: the ear bud falls apart.

Now, with my old phone (a Treo 680) I used to use a Bluetooth-enabled headset to make my phone calls. I loved the wireless feature this setup provided. But, as I often like to listen to music with my iPhone, I'm pretty much confined to the use of the hard-wired Apple-supplied stereo headset.

Inevitably, the speaker grill separates from the rest of the ear bud. Average life expectancy for one of my headsets? Two to three months. With all of the 'gee-whiz' hardware that Apple has been able to wow me with, it would seem that they could easily construct a headset that actually survived everyday use.

Is it just me, or have other iPhone owners experienced the same problem? I'd love to hear from you.

And I'd love for you to log onto, and rate my posts. Thanks!

Friday, August 8, 2008

A Lounge for Your Lizard.

Just finished up a great work week in Texas, and am now hanging out in the Admiral's Club at the Austin Airport, waiting for my flight. Nature called (as it often does when I've consumed five coffees), and I made my way to the head. As you can see, the entrance to the Men's is placarded with a sign that reads, "Men's Lounge".

At the risk of bursting your bubble of anticipation, there's really not a lounge behind this door. No bar, no mood music, no sofa. Just a few guys trying not to pee on their hands, and one dude flushing his toilet over and over. Guess he was trying to be polite and disguise the noises of his bodily functions. Nice.

Finishing my business, I exited the "Lounge" and noticed this sign directly across from me. Hmmm. It would appear that while paying customers at the Admiral's Club can enjoy the comfort of a "Lounge", lowly employees are relegated to just a "Restroom". That and the fact that the need all employees, regardless of sex or handicap have to use the same facility.

I really wanted to explore the employee's restroom to see for myself what the difference was between a "Lounge" and a "Restroom", but quickly thought the better of it. Given the current state of the airline industry (where pillows can cost $7, a checked bag $20) perhaps this bathroom is just a room with a bucket? We'll never know...

And when nature calls for funny, make your way to

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Who's a Good Dawg!?

My last post resulted in a lot of emails from friends and family asking, "How's VIVI doing?" Well, here's a recent photo of her...enjoying a Sunday morning on the patio by Amie's side.

She's eight months old, and is already larger than our old Bulldog, Fireball. Has to be something in her genes...her daddy - UGA VI - was one very big Dawg.

Speaking of UGA VI, some of you may know that his 'official' name was "Whachagot Loran", named in honor of my good buddy, Loran Smith. We named our Bulldog "VIVI" in honor of her father, but when I filled out her AKC papers, I thought it fitting to name her, "Miss Myrna's VIVI", to also honor Loran's incredible wife, Myrna. During my recent visit to Athens, I had dinner with Loran and Myrna, and I learned from them that UGA VII's AKC name is "Loran's Finest".

Nice to know that the UGA/Smith family connection has been continued!

And now you should continue onward to Tell 'em I sent ya.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

How 'Bout Them Dawgs!

Two weeks ago I was in Athens, Georgia, and had the opportunity to stop by the Bulldogs' practice field just in time to watch the team run some wind sprints. The excitement about this team - and the anticipation of the football season - is palpable. And this feeling is not limited to just Athens...or even Georgia.

The anticipation for the 2008 Dawgs is nationwide.

On August 1st, USA Today featured Georgia as their pick as the best team in College football. And, as you can see here, Sports Illustrated has anointed the team as their favorites. I personally think this SI cover is hotter than their swimsuit issue*.

We're just a scant 23 days away from the start of the season, when my Bulldogs take on Georgia Southern "Between the Hedges". I just can't wait!

* If you think I'm crazy, then please understand this: my wife sometimes reads this blog.

Something you should read are the fine blogs to be found at

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

This week finds me selling my wines in the great state of Texas. I arrived into DFW yesterday afternoon, and will be working the Dallas market today. The weather here is downright sultry...104 degree days and h-u-m-i-d. I should do well with my white wines this week. My big reds? That could be another story.

This afternoon I'm scheduled to drive four hours south in preparation to work tomorrow in Houston. I say 'I'm scheduled' to do this, because I may or may not be able to get to Houston. Seems some asshole named Edouard has decided to visit Houston, too:

It's always something, ain't it?

And it's always sunny and funny over at

Monday, August 4, 2008

Talking Out the Sides of Their Heads.

I freely admit that - when time permits - I'm a TV news junkie. Whether the views offered are from the left or from the right (it's rarely - if ever - from the center), I'll tune in. Some of its thoughtful, much of its spoon-fed talking points straight from the party (or candidate, or lobbyist, or employer) but it can help you think.

The other night I was watching Countdown with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC as the show's amiable if smarmy host chatted (as he often does) with Air America's Rachel Maddow. Maddow can be engaging, but there's something she does that I find extremely off-putting: she talks with her lips firmly planted to the right side of her face. There are times that I really want to listen to what she's saying, but the smirk-like affectation she cops with her pie hole really distracts me.

And she's not alone as a talking head who talks out of the side of their mouth. Okay, so most of these folks do so, but it's figuratively not literally out of the sides of their mouth. Another case in point is FOXNews' Greta Van Susteren. But I'll cut Greta a little slack...on two counts. One, as I understand it, she's had elective surgery performed on her face. Perhaps this led to the sideways talking? Secondly - and far more plausible - is that she works for FOX News - and subconsciously cops a facial tick because she knows what she's saying is usually crap. Perhaps it's Greta's "tell".

And the sideways lip slide isn't a recent affectation with news types. One of the greatest, all-time practitioners of the art was NBC News anchorman Tom Brokaw.

Perhaps it's something that is taught in the nation's preeminent television journalism schools? "If you really want them to see you as sincere, pull your mouth as far to one of your ears as possible. Viewers eat that crap up with a spoon!"

I for one would like to see a bit more straight talk from the wonks on TV. Figuratively and literally.

And I'd like you now to literally click on