I like to think I'm funny. But wine blogs are rampant with delusional people. In fact, without the delusion that people care what other people think there wouldn't even be any wine blogs. Wouldn't that be nice! But I had quite the epiphany today. I thought I was funny, I thought I knew how to write great satire. I was pretty proud of some of my work here at HoseMaster of Wine. But I have been humbled. Truly and completely humbled. I feel like Donald Trump just fired me. I feel like James Laube just gave me 75 points. I feel like Rand Paul called me a genius. I'm humiliated. I'm not nearly as funny, I don't have a whisper of the satirical gift, as the folks at the Wine Blog Awards. Their nominees for their Annual Poodles are brilliantly satirical. I tip my Hose to them. I merely aspire to that kind of comedic brilliance, I have never achieved it. I simply can't stop laughing. Bravo!
Every great satire begins with a brilliant premise. The nominations for the Poodles is no exception. Here's the premise: a completely irrelevant and useless consortium recruits eleven unqualified judges, pretends they have the credentials, no, the authority to hand out wine awards, convinces the by-definition criminally vain wine bloggers that their awards have merit, and thereby creates a buzz about their meaningless and powerless group! It's sheer genius. Now, first off, you have to make the Poodles Judges anonymous. Anonymity conveys power and authority. This is why terrorists wear masks when they behead journalists. Unveil them and they're recognizable as powerless cowards. Anonymity makes them seem scary and omniscient, a sort of God come to life, like either a vengeful Zeus, or Tom Wark. So when the Poodles are awarded, remember it's just the terrorists winning; and when the masks are removed the Magnificent Eleven will be revealed, IF they are revealed, as the misfits and outcasts and trolls you expect. Meanwhile, it's satire worthy of Paddy Chayevsky. You Poodle nominees will have to Google him.
But the premise of the satire isn't the payoff. The payoff is in the details, and, well, I am still giggling at the details, the nominees themselves. It is an astonishing achievement, and one I shamefully confess I envy, to be able to insult not just wine bloggers in general, but professional wine writers as well! It isn't easy to take them both down a peg, I know, I try all the time. But the WBA folks accomplished it with their Poodle nominees. My congratulations to them. It takes pure genius to nominate a published, professional wine writer of Steve Heimoff's stature (let it pass, let it pass) alongside ChronicNegress in the Best Writing Category. Who should be more insulted? The ChronicNegress or the Chronic? Oh God, I shouldn't cheerlead, but, please, please, please let the Negress win. I went to visit ChronicNegress and, well, then the true brilliance of the satire became apparent. This is a woman writing about herself in the third person! Wow. It's like Rickey Henderson in drag writing a wine blog competing against the California Wine Critic for Wine Enthusiast. AND, AND, AND, the Washington State Wine Critic for the Wine Enthusiast. Dammit, why didn't I think of that?! It's positively Swiftian. And I call myself funny.
The HoseMaster went to the WBA site to see the nominees for the 2010 Poodles and the HoseMaster was stumped. The HoseMaster was sure that the Terrorist judges would recognize the writing talent of Alfonso Cevola and Samantha Dugan. But the HoseMaster was disappointed. They were not there. Then it dawned on the HoseMaster. The HoseMaster isn't the only one writing satire! The Poodles are all about satire. A satire of awards, the HoseMaster realized, it's a sendup of awards! HoseMaster almost fell for it. Now HoseMaster can't stop laughing.
I guess "demonstrate a command of the English language" means you write about yourself in the third person. Or you write eloquently about your own importance to the wine business in the first person. Or you're a conglomerate of marketing people writing a blog together to promote your business and educate people about how important it is to use Social Media, which you sell, to promote the wines of, well, the wines of your clients (Catavino?! Fucking hilarious. Marketing propaganda as literature--I am so pissed I didn't, sorry--HoseMaster is so pissed HoseMaster didn't think of that.) Toss in the Aussie guy to make it an International category, though, really, after a Negress, that's sort of overdoing it, but, hey, satire is all about going over the top.
An Aussie and a Negress go into a wine bar. The Aussie says, "Hey, are you Maori?" "No," she replies, "the Negress is single. Is that a shrimp on the Barbie or are you just happy to see me?"
And just when my sides are beginning to feel normal again, I get to the Best New Wine Blog Poodle. Here the setup conveys the comedy, "Should present a credible appearance as a new entry in the realm of wine blogging, based on graphics, title, depth of posts, etc." That's just classic! The priorities are just right. First comes graphics. What's more important to the culture of wine and writing than graphics! Well, the title of course! Swirl, Smell, Slurp, the oral sex blog! Now we're talking depth of posts. Sheesh, it's like "The Karate Kid" for people who think movies are for brainiacs. It should be against the law for married couples to write blogs together--it just encourages bulimia. DrinkNectar is here too! The little kid with head trauma has a wine blog with great graphics (come on, did Mom help?) and a cool title. Hey, look NectarDrinker, that girl over at Swirl, Smell, Swallow is cute. Go ahead, don't be shy, tell her she's purty! You know more about wine than her pathetic husband--go for it! These are just two of the nominees for prettiest site and coolest title. A Long Pour, well, true, more than a paragraph with this guy is really, really long. There's in depth and then there's, look at me, I'm an Alder Yarrow impersonator. You know, the Poodle folks could have gone the easy route and actually nominated some interesting new blogs (can't think of any), but, no, they sustained the satire, no mean feat, with these graphically striking sites. I know, let's give Best New Actress to the one with the biggest tits! As long as her name is cute too.
Best Overall Wine Blogs. Oh, man, not sure HoseMaster can get through this with a straight face. Well, there's 1WineDude, who has shitty graphics and can't write, but he gets a lot of hits so let's nominate him. Frankly, he gets the most free junkets and free wine and free stuff, so we need to give him a Poodle for being the Ideal Blogger. It's why we give Kevin Costner awards--it ain't easy being successful with so little talent. Dr. Vino? He's the CNN crawl on your homepage, but with complimentary adjectives! And for the cheap comic laugh, which every satire has to go for every once in a while, what's funnier that The New York Cork Report? I'm still laughing at that. Best Overall Wine Blog! It's clearly written by a cadaver. Man, that's funny. And just when the tears clear from my eyes I'm blindsided by the hilarity of PalatePress. Yup, the site that takes all the second rate bloggers who don't even get a mention for a Poodle, molds them together into one big overbaked blob, and, voila, the Domino's Pizza of wine blogs. You know what you get when you order from PalatePress--it's bland, it's flavorless, it's nothing but filler, but at least it's cheap. And then there's the Cellarist, the SF Chronicle's Jon Bonne, the guy who thinks wine blogs are over, a guy who openly hates wine blogs. Cool. A satire needs an ending.
The Awards that guarantee the meaninglessness of Wine Blog Awards gives an award to the guy who proclaims the meaninglessness of wine blogs. It's brilliant and it's perfect.
After 19 years as a Sommelier in Los Angeles, twice named Sommelier of the Year by the Southern California Restaurant Writers' Association, I moved to Sonoma County to explore the other aspects of the wine business. I've spent, OK wasted, 35 years learning about and teaching about and swallowing wine. I am also a judge at the Sonoma Harvest Fair, San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and the San Francisco International Wine Competition--so I can spit like a rabid llama. I know more about wine than David Sedaris and I'm funnier than James Laube. Stay tuned for an informed but jaded view of everything wine and everything else.
I'm living proof that alcohol kills brain cells.
What the Critics Are Saying About HoseMaster of Wine
"If you want a great hoot and howl moment or two...go read the HoseMaster's year-end reflections...that guy is without a doubt the funniest SOB in the blog-world...and thank him for having the brains and balls to target his laser of laughter on anybody...HoseMaster for President...HoseMaster for Blogger of the Year...although he would be the first to say the bar is so damn low for that award, he should win it every year..." --Robert Parker
"No one is immune from California sommelier and wine judge Ron Washam's skewering. He polishes that skewer with boundless enthusiasm and acuity."
"Please let this guy write the scripts for Saturday Night Live which has gotten so lame...his newest "wisdom" is worth an Emmy....I wonder if he is the genius behind all those Hitler/Parker,etc. clips? No one else is remotely as funny or as talented.And the wine world sure needs someone to poke fun at all the nonsense and phoney/baloney unsufferable crap out there."
"Washam uses his own blog, HoseMaster of Wine, to skewer the industry in general and wine blogs in particular. If your mouse scoots to your browser's close box while reading a wine blog, Washam may be the blogger for you."
--San Francisco Chronicle
"...that guy Hosemaster has real talent...if you ask me sign him up for Comedy Central...he's the funniest guy since Adam Carolla's hilarious book...IN 50 YEARS WE WILL ALL BE CHICKS..."
"Ron Washam, former sommelier, is easily the most bitingly funny blogger/wine writer that we have ever come across. He is an equal opportunity crusader who pillories big wineries and amateur bloggers alike, as well as everything and everyone in between...One needs a sense of humor and a tolerance for earthiness to enjoy reading The Hosemaster. We must have both because this guy deserves a wider audience, in our humble opinion." --Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine
"In my opinion, and that of many others, his blog is one of the best. And in terms of satirical or parodic wine blogs, it has no peer. Ron’s alert eye catches every pretense and skewers it with laugh out loud mercilessness."
"This site should carry a warning label. It's sort of a Dave Barry/George Carlin approach to wine. The Hosemaster (real name Ron Washam) skewers fellow bloggers and industry savants with glee, while offering hilarious wine guides such as his Honest Guide to Grapes..."
--Paul Gregutt, Seattle Times
"Washam is a skilled wine judge (I have judged with him) who is willing to judge wine double blind, in public. To my knowledge, Parker does not do this and never has. So Ron's credentials are in place, and so is his sense of the absurd."
--Dan Berger, VintageExperiences
"...I consider Ron a very talented writer and I’ve long been an admirer of his scathing wit..."
"And if any free sites think they can conquer the world, there’s always the Hosemaster to take ‘em down a notch."
--Tyler Colman "Dr. Vino"
"Those of you who know Ron either love or hate him, because he throws jabs like a punch drunk boxer, and we’re all in the firing line. He’ll throw them if he hates you, and he’ll throw them if he loves you. He’s a satirist of exceptional quality."
--Jo Diaz "Juicy Tales by Jo Diaz"
"I must say you are an idiot. I've never liked you. I have no idea why people find you funny."