Wine Review: Dark Red Blend, Franzia

Franzia Dark Red Blend

Admittedly, I worried that this purchase would be a regrettable decision. I’ve read many questionable reviews but a couple weeks ago I was at Monique’s house and she gave me a glass of Franzia Sunset Blush. I raised an eyebrow but accepted the glass anyway and it actually wasn’t bad; much smoother and more pleasant than I expected.

This is a 5 liter box and it was on sale at Albertson’s for $13.99 so obviously the price is right.

My rating is a solid “not terrible”.  While Franzia wine may very well be made with the backwash of wrung-out rags used to clean another winery’s barrels, I’ve tried two of their blends now and both were better than I thought they might be. I’ve certainly had worse wine from more swanky winemakers and paid more for it too!

The Dark Red Blend gets pretty darn not terrible about half way through the second glass. Nice flavors of vanilla and oak garnished with cherry and pepper. 13.5% alcohol, no headache or sour stomach the next morning.

Is it anything to get your panties all in a bundle about? No, but it’ll getcha through until payday.

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Wine Review: Cabernet Sauvignot, Kendall-Jackson Vinter’s Reserve

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Twenty years ago I had dinner at Olive Garden with Monique.  We were there to celebrate (Thank God We’re Not) Mother’s Day and I wanted a glass of wine because it seemed like an adult thing to do.

Despite living in sin city, I had grown up on a dirt road and had no idea what to order. Monique’s family, on the other hand, was in the habit of attending cultured events like the Santa Fe Opera and she was somewhat better equipped to differentiate between a decent wine and a bottle of cough syrup.

“Get this one”, she told me, “You’ll like it.”

So I did.  And I did.

“This one”, was Kendall-Jackson Cabernet Sauvignon.

Burned in my memory for all of time because, at the tender age of 21, I had notably fewer things to keep track of.

Which brings us to the present moment.

Xavier and I made an afternoon adventure out of visiting Costco in Leesburg, VA. We live in Maryland but in these parts packaged liquor can only be sold in state regulated liquor stores, ergo not Costco.

Hence the drive to Virginia.

We bought two wines on this trip.  I have already reviewed one of them, the Sofia Rose’, and the other – based on the recurrence of an old memory, was 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon from Kendall-Jackon Vinter’s Reserve.

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I had meant to pair it with food, take some nice photos and to write something eloquent about it, but that’s not what happened.

I came home from work on a Friday night feeling exhausted and fed up with the steady stream of idiocracy that had filled my shift. Poor Xavier got home and asked how my day was.

Now faced with wild gesticulations and an ongoing rant, Xavier silently opened this bottle of wine and poured me a glass because he’s a good husband like that.

It worked like a charm and by the the second glass I had calmed right the fricky-frack down.

How was it? I would call it a solid “pretty good”. A far cry better than the yellow tail Cabernet Sauvignon, though not quite as smooth as the one from Tarara Winery that started this whole wine review business in the first place. It’s worth noting that the Kendall-Jackson is about $14.50 at Costco – as opposed to the $45 price tag on the Cabernet from Tarara.

For $14.50, I think this wine is a good buy. If you want me to say that it tastes like cedar, vanilla and cherry…. um, sure. Yes, it tastes just like that.

My review: A fairly smooth red wine with a pleasant woody aftertaste and enjoyable sedative qualities. May save a marriage.

 

 

Life Coach

This post originally written as a gift to the star character. Leo Rabbits have all the fun.

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I was sitting in the very last row of seats at the back of the plane.  Sandwiched between two people so that my hands were relegated strictly to the space above my lap, I held my nag chompa scented copy of Trout Fishing In America, a book that is not really about fishing, and pretended to read it while contemplating how to explain myself.  I am the author known as The Devil You Know which means, of course, that you probably don’t know me at all.

One of the people I was stuck between was my mom. We had gone on a mother and daughter vacation, apparently.  The plane ride from Salem to Magdalena was approximately three hours and, while I had assumed she had run out of irritating and embarrassing shit to say either to or in front of me, respectively, I had thought wrong.  I was concentrating hard on my book that was not really about fishing when my mom leaned over and asked me “did you read What the Dog Saw yet?” “Not yet” I told her.  Knowing I was a Malcolm Gladwell fan, she had picked up a copy for each of us when she saw it on 2 for 1 sale at a bookstore that is now defunct.  “Well”, she replied, ” I didn’t think it was as good as his other books so I only read part of it but I did like the one story that was actually called ‘What The Dog Saw’.  It was about that guy who is good with dogs.”  “Caesar Milan” I told her. “Yeah that’s him. He has, like, 30 dogs that he is rehabilitating at any given time and they (the dogs) just fall all over themselves to please him. It’s because he’s the dog whisperer.”  Dog Whisperer indeed, I thought.  While she continued talking about dogs and books I shifted in my seat and the bruises on my ass mumbled something about how it would be nice to stand up and walk around.  Less than 24 hours ago the world was so different.

My screaming and crying could no doubt be heard all through the three story house and probably all the way down the block.  I had been forced to undress and was pushed onto my hands and knees atop a hardwood coffee table.  A man who was easily twice my size had a handful of my hair and was making me look straight ahead while he was spanking my ass with his other hand.  The continuous stinging blows were merciless and growing in intensity.  When he saw I was fighting back tears, he hit me particularly hard and demanded to know “am I hurting you?”. “Yes” I whimpered “Then say you’re hurting me!”  When I said it, he hit me again and continued to do so until I was choking on the words, “you’re hurting me...”

Eventually my mom tired of dogs and books and went back to examining her souvenir brochure from the world famous Chinese Gardens.  I didn’t think I should tell her about my flashbacks so I returned to my book that was not really about fishing.

When I was young and in college, I met a cute boy.  He had brown skin and long hair. He played bass guitar with savant-like mastery.  Unlike your average savant, he could also tie his shoes and juggle oranges. He was cool and sweet and funny. Naturally, I loved him though I was quite sure he didn’t notice me at all.  One evening, when I had given up hope of accidentally attracting his attention, I set him up on a blind date with one of my friends.  At the time I only had two friends and, since everyone knows that girls travel the plains in roving bands, all three of us climbed in the car and made the journey from Pie Town to his apartment.  I would love to claim that this was my evil genius master plan, concocted to win him for myself but, sadly for my intellect, it was pure dumb luck that he didn’t like my friend nor did she like him and, somehow or other, I found myself naked in his bed at the end of the night.

“The supposition that it is necessary to feed the Cobra Lily a piece of hamburger or an insect daily is erroneous.” -excerpt from Trout Fishing In America.  The more I didn’t read this book, while sitting sandwiched between two people in the last row of seats at the very back of the plane, the more I began to wonder how I would ever explain all that had happened.  He had asked me to write about it but there is no straight forward way to tell this story because I, for one, am crooked as a stick in water.  In my life, everything has to do with everything else so how do I tell the tale of one thread in a tapestry without unraveling the whole image?

The plane was yesterday and I acquired all these bruises the day before. Tonight I laid on my bed, tapping this story out on my phone, until Carl also came to bed. I switched programs and was scanning my Twitter feed by the time he made it across the room.  Though he hasn’t done anything wrong, I am annoyed by his presence and because he has interrupted my train of thought. I lay on my back, tolerating his hand on my stomach which also bugs the crap out of me.  I have a plan though so I keep reading my tweets and waiting for him to fall asleep. He is just drifting off when a black furry face with huge eyes pokes up over the edge of the bed.  My cat doesn’t like to jump anymore so she reaches her arms out, digs in with her claws and drags herself up where she wants to be. Then she lays down on top of me, purring like a race car.  With the invasion of the cat, Carl removes his hand and eventually dozes off again.  When I’m sure he’s asleep I turn off my reading lamp, gather up cat and iPhone, and exit the room with them both.

Many painful things occurred on and around the coffee table in the basement of the three story house.  Next to the table I stood on the floor, bent over grabbing my ankles and he beat me with a riding crop while demanding that I thank him for each stroke and then request another; a request that was always granted. Realizing that there was nothing I could do to alter the course of events, I did as I was told.

After the blind date that did not go as planned, I spent a lot of time with my new boyfriend.  One night when I had the stomach flu we went with my friend, Monique, to meet some other people I didn’t know at the hot springs.  After an hour of bouncing up the mountain in the back seat, we finally arrived and I fell out of the car and threw up on the ground.  While sitting in the springs one of the other men there asked my boyfriend if I was in middle school which, evidently, was commentary that meant I appeared to be twelve yrs old. Sixteen years later, I now appear to be at least thirteen. During the night we laid on the ground and listened to the rise and fall of Monique’s voice as she sat on the edge of the hot spring smoking a cigarette and shaking her foot; charming some guy’s dick into fucking her. She didn’t drive all that way for nothing after all.

While I sat naked on the coffee table, he made me thank him for stripping me of all power and control.  He was very strong and I learned to obey him. He made me sit on my knees, which was hard on both my knees and ankles.  When I saw him pick up the nipple clamps, I knew better than to raise my hands in self defense. They were a viscous and biting device but I sat there, with my hands down, as he applied them and the pain shot through me.  The clamps were connected by a short chain which he placed in my mouth and then told me to raise my head and look at him. This was painful and nearly impossible due to the short length of the chain. He hit me extra hard with the crop and told me that if the chain fell from my mouth he would give me ten more. He then used his hands to force an orgasm from me.  When he touched my pussy, it was wet.  An orgasm, when taken by force, is not in any way the same as when it occurs naturally.

On the morning I left Salem I saw a zombie walking through the airport.  It was my reflection in some glass doors.  When it saw me staring, the zombie reached out and grabbed the front of my shirt, drawing my face to it’s black teeth. “Cada profeta en su casa” it said, rank breath stinging my eyes. Fucking zombie.  Having spent the night cursing and puking into the toilet, I was in no mood for bilingualism.  My dinner at the Chapel Pub the previous evening was served with a side of malicious intent, which was disappointing because I had ordered french fries.  Can’t say I was surprised though.  My mom was horrifyingly rude to the bartender and I had wanted to sit across the room from her so he wouldn’t think we were together. Too late though, he already knew.  I stumbled through the airport, stomach churning, mom in tow, zombie trailing behind.

My college boyfriend was a short affair, lasting only a few months. We didn’t break up but rather we moved on.  While we were together we took a road trip to Las Vegas to see the Grateful Dead. I don’t think either of us was actually a fan of the Dead. We were not Dead Heads, as it were, but while we were there we did have sex in the same bed where a different boy I had been involved with was also sleeping. He was snoring so I guess we figured he wouldn’t hear us.

He made me lay on my back on the table while he poured the molten contents of two candles all over me.  The searing hot wax burned my skin and I expected there would be marks but it didn’t leave any.  He sat between my legs and I was vulnerable to him. This was clear to both of us. I heard him plug something in and turn it on; a brief buzzing sound before my pussy was rocked by an intense vibration. I was not able to choose whether or not to cum anymore than you can choose to keep your leg still when the doctor tests your reflexes. While I was consumed by involuntary spasms, he held me down and continued with his work.

After we parted ways I did not see my college boyfriend for many years.  A psychic medium had told me we would meet again but so long had passed that I was sure he was lost to me.  Then one day, many years later and a year or so before today, I was in a sad place.  Not knowing what else to do, I reached out to him and, to my surprise, he reached back.  We discovered that we still liked each other.  He told me of his life and he told me things about himself that I never knew.  I told him how I had accidentally hypnotized myself into an emotional prison and he said something like “well, that’s dumb” and I was like “yeah, it is”.

Now that I’m home, I’m going to have to keep my ass hidden for awhile as it looks like a badly painted mural.  Little dots and squares and big circles, ruptured capillaries snaking like blue streams down a mountain; all of which would be tough to explain.  I’m sure Carl was expecting to get laid but, as it turns out, he’ll have to wait.

When he finished disciplining me on the table, he pushed me on to the floor and dragged me across the room. Then he tied me up in a steeresque fashion, hands to feet.  During these sessions, when he taught me about submission, he would explain his rules to me and, should I ever not follow them precisely enough, his punishment would be swift and harsh.  At times, when my head would rock back from being slapped in the face, I would think at him ” you know I’m trying to do as you said!” but as he consistently reinforced his authority I noticed a deeper part of myself responding; not with any kind of malice or resentment, but with acceptance.  He stood over me with the riding crop, hitting me when he felt like it. The way I was tied made it difficult to squirm around much or roll away.  I didn’t want to show him resistance but my body responds to pain.  He was right to restrain me.

My college boyfriend, now pen pal, and I wrote many letters back and forth; each of us sharing the bizarre stories that are the fabric of our lives.  One day about 6 months ago he told me of a new endeavor; a passion for the domineering arts, commonly referred to as BDSM.  He was very excited about it.  I don’t believe I had ever seen him so excited about anything!  He told me of the overwhelmingly positive response he was receiving from his various female companions.  “Really?” I asked him, secretly feeling a little excited about it myself.  In his fervor he asked me in a letter how I would respond to being tied up and spanked.  My first response was “I don’t know, I’ve never been tied up and spanked”.  He didn’t realize it but he let loose a wild seed in my mind that started to take root.  I was tired. Tired of calling the shots, tired of making the decisions, tired of being the aggressor.  All of it was so draining and I was exhausted.  I felt resentful of the relentless pressure that I was under.  I wanted to put down the reins but, with no one to pick them up, it wasn’t an option.

I was still tied up on the floor when he slid his cock into my ass, unapologetic and without hesitation.   I had brought myself to him as an offering and, by doing so, had agreed to accept him as master.

I wrote a follow up letter to my pen pal with a new response to his question.  I explained my exhaustion to him and asked him for help.  I told him there was no one else I would consider turning to and I begged him to relieve me.  I acknowledged him as a dominant male and said I would respect his decision, whatever it was.  For what it’s worth, it’s not very often that a scorpion will lay down in front of a lion.  It defies the laws of nature. Despite having to dip his feet in the sea of moral ambiguity that is my world, he agreed.  He explained to me that he required my complete and voluntary surrender and that I would have to accept whatever came next, which was for him to decide.  I agreed and thanked him.  I promised I would submit to him in any way he deemed necessary.

He had me face down on the floor, hands and feet bound.  He was in my ass and, with his weight on top of me, I couldn’t move. His method of penetration was very forceful.  He was using one elbow to support himself and had his other hand clamped over my nose and mouth.  Silent, helpless and choking; I was subdued.  Never did it occur to me to be afraid nor did I feel any anger or aggression.  I was at peace with all that was happening and felt my trust in him deepen.  When he did allow me to breathe I told him to use me to please himself.  In my mind, he had won my respect. I loved him and wanted to turn myself inside out for him.  That was not a literally possible thing to do but what I could do was accept him fully, which I did.  The pain he had inflicted on me was necessary and appreciated.  It was a gratifying wave of relief.

Once we had made our agreement, there remained one little issue and that was how I was going to bend the laws of inertia to pull off a scheme of this magnitude. I had to find a legitimate reason to travel across the country without raising any suspicions regarding the nature of the trip.  While I command a certain wizardry over such things, this was no small feat.  Months were passing and I was having no luck.  Then one day, about eight weeks ago, my mom invited me to go to breakfast with her.  While we chewed our pancakes, she told me that she understood the cramped feelings I had since Carl and I were always together.  We live and work together and I had complained to her on many occasions about my lack of privacy and of not having any “me time”. She said she had thought of a solution.  Her idea was that she and I would take a trip together but go our own ways once we arrived at the destination. That way, I could frolic about all by myself and no one would be suspicious of my intent.  At first, I blew it off, thinking “yeah right, like I have time to do that.”  Fortunately, before I said anything too negative, a brilliant vision flashed before me.  I told her it was a lovely plan and that we would go to Salem.

When he had finished with me, we cleaned ourselves up and I cried on him for awhile. Then we went to get some Thai food.  I ordered chicken soup and what they brought me was a bowl of beaks and crow’s feet.  While I sipped my witchcraft with a giant spoon, we discussed what had happened and some of the ways in which it’s effect might be felt in the future. “Watch out”, he told me, “two other women I’ve been with have left their husbands.” “You know”, I grinned, “some people would call that being a home-wrecker.”  “No, no” he said, looking up and pointing his spoon at me, “I’m a life coach.”

July 5th

Today is not a holiday but I’ve decided to spend the morning lying in bed, reading a novel as if the 4th of July would go on forever. The venetian blinds on my bay window are mostly closed but I can still perceive the shifting color spectrum as the sun makes it’s way across the sky. If only I could read in a light tight box, immune to the feeling of time slipping away, I could stay here much longer. Anxiety and galloping thoughts get the best of me. As always, the world is going on out there and in my head; endless variations of individual worlds.

Sometime between 6:00 and 7:30 a.m., I dreamt that I woke up in someone else’s bed. The bed belonged to my friend, Krivo, and it was in his new apartment. I have not been in his bed or his apartment since 1995 but I knew where I was because he walked in the room and started talking to me. I got up to look around and admire his art collection. The piece that caught my eye was a painting on silk of a man in a blue and purple suit wearing a fedora and playing a saxophone. The piece was titled The Jazz Musician. I remembered that this had been a gift from me and was touched that he still had it. Upon waking, I know I did not give him that painting but I sent him a text to see if he had something like it.

At 7:30 Carl left to take his mother to the cancer doctor. She has multiple myeloma and her body is wasting away. She weighs less than me now. That can’t be good. I feel for him because I know the devastation I would feel if my mother were sick but it is an empathy more than a personal sadness because I have intentionally never bonded with her. She is not my mother and I am not her daughter. I feel like an impostor, welcomed into her home like a stranger. Trivial small talk and jello salad. Paper plates partitioned so the mashed potatoes don’t touch the meat. Margarine scooped from a tub and presented in a glass bowl. She doesn’t know what to say to me nor I to her. She is a kind soul but she is not my mother.

Ernesto and Carmen sit at the airport waiting to board the plane that will take them home and back to their routines. I try to imagine Carmen’s life, seemingly free from the burden of ambition. She cleans the house and makes dinner; watching talk shows and servicing her husband in accordance with routine. She goes bowling. At forty-something years old she has many things that he has bought for her yet her own efforts have yielded only a shelf full of bowling trophies and romance novels with creased spines; souvenirs from a life-time free of ambition. Not trying equals never having to fail. It is safe. It is air conditioned. It is the lead role in a cage. I guess it’s a cushy gig. I have to wonder though, bringing nothing to the table, what is she to him except a housekeeper that puts out? I don’t understand and I’m not going to try. She fits his definition of “wife” and it is my lack of understanding that relegates me to being what Monique would refer to as “hardly anyone’s type.” It’s ok though, I would rather be what I am.

Dean is at his office, impeccably attired in clothes that clearly did not come from the department store at the mall. He is not a snob but he is a snappy dresser. Those are his words. He is not prideful but his dignity is strong. Those are my words. He sits at his desk; stirring the world, initiating chemical reactions, making something out of nothing. He is beautiful.