Monday, May 31, 2010

One




One year ago I revived the ol' HoseMaster and started my wine blog over again. On the anniversary of that first post, I wanted to step out from behind the curtain and say a few things. It has been a very interesting year, minus a three week hiatus, filled with bombast, tomfoolery, raillery, pantagruel, persiflage, mockery and buffoonery. And very little regard for human decency. My kind of year.


When I began HoseMaster of Wine, I knew that it would take me more than a year to get my tired old comedy writing muscles back into fighting shape. The HoseMaster, as I call him on this blog, is an old and familiar voice to me, one I've shaped and been shaped by since I was a teenager. I am not the HoseMaster, and he is not I. In the course of writing this blog I have encountered lots of people in the real world who are surprised that this is the case. The HoseMaster exists to channel that part of my brain that thinks all of life is a comedy, and that there is no target that cannot be insulted, demeaned, leveled and disemboweled. As a longtime student of comedy and satire, I am in love with its traditions as much as I am in love with wine, maybe more so. But when I look back at my earlier posts I see how much of a struggle I've had to find that familiar voice, that voice that haunts my waking life, that evil Jiminy Cricket that whispers jokes into my ear. So thank you for putting up with me. I'm still not there yet.


It's been a year of Vornography and 1WineDoody and Mis(s) Feiring--hell, at least one of them took it in the spirit with which it was written. And I've managed to insult many wine bloggers with far less talent--Harlots, chicks with Brix, chicks in caftans, chronic people of color, and so many others. The HoseMaster expresses my genuine horror at the vapidness of the Internet, the sheer collective stupidity it displays, the sorrowful replacement of quality with quantity, the debasement of authority and experience, the very death of truth. Yet I hope it comes out funny. There are very few days it's funny to me.


It was also a year of M.S. Conspiracy and Grape Guides and my misguided attempts at literary parodies, Saramago and Castaneda. I love the silliness of comedy as much as I love aggressive satire. Wine is the great creator of silliness and truth, so it seems a fitting way to honor it. The genuine joy of doing HoseMaster is discovering for myself what the next post brings. In the past year I think I've made myself laugh about four times. This is probably your experience as well. And it's the stupidest stuff that makes me laugh. The coroner's name in M.S. Conspiracy, Avril Cadavril, still makes me laugh out loud. In my life I have spent countless hours, an unbelievable number of hours, writing jokes, alone, in a quiet room, on a pad of paper, on a typewriter, and now on a computer screen. I have always believed the well would one day run dry. Many would argue that if Timmy fell in my well Lassie wouldn't have to worry about him drowning. Sadly for so many people, I've never suffered writer's block. Ideas fill my head from when I wake up in the morning until I fall into a drunken stupor, around noon. I assure you, it is the purest from of ecstasy I know to sit down and take dictation from the HoseMaster and have it end up like "BLANDNESS." It is for those moments I sit down twice a week and channel the HoseMaster. He's my Comedy Channel. But he's a pain to live with. I hate the guy.


I have had a very long romance with wine. Wine ripped me from the arms of comedy writing as a profession and seduced me into a lifelong affair. At least I wear protection. I know a lot about wine, I think of myself as a skilled taster, but I also know enough about wine to know that I know very little. During the past year I've also flirted with reviewing wines, with the Million Point Scale, with What's the HoseMaster Drinking. But wine reviews mean very little if you don't know the person reviewing the wines, if you haven't tasted with them, understand their background and biases. So I just decided to stop. No one, and I mean no one, cares what I think about wines. And, frankly, I see wine after crappy wine touted on wine blogs that I wouldn't serve to Glenn Beck's prostate. One of the truisms about wine is that you cannot be an adequate judge of wines, assign them numbers or smiley faces or idiotic songs, if you haven't tasted the greatest wines on the planet. You simply cannot know how high the bar is set, you have no frame of reference. Your opinion is as worthless as the blog it's written on. It's the blind judging a beauty pageant. And while every wine blogger has the right to express his opinion, only an idiot would listen to it. What wineries who send wines to wine reviewing bloggers believe is that there are mostly idiots out there. They may be right.


To my surprise, the HoseMaster has become instantly recognizable, a presence in the insignificant world of wine blogs. I am amazed. I am Tweeted about, FaceBooked, speculated about, and both admired and abhorred. I see HoseMaster popping up all over the place, in comments and posts, mentioned with the understanding that most everyone will know who he is. I'm beginning to be recognized at wine tastings, the curse of having an uncommon surname. It seems to have even become something of a badge of honor for the HoseMaster to satirize or insult a wine blogger, though someone might mention that to Alice Feiring. It's alternately flattering and scary. But I do take it as a compliment, and I'm not especially good at taking compliments. It speaks to the strength of the HoseMaster's voice, something I am only nominally responsible for. Enough people identify with his brand of outrage that he's become a real character in people's lives. That is the scary part.


Finally, I am so grateful for all that the HoseMaster of Wine has brought to my life in the past year. 130 posts later I still can't believe how lucky I've been, how much I value this little community--the people who frequently comment, and all of the rest of you who don't want to. I don't know about other wine bloggers, but for me, HoseMaster of Wine is an end in itself. I'm not looking for free trips or free wine or a book deal or an award or adulation. As crazy as it seems, I do this for the sheer joy of creation. Nothing has come of it, nothing will come of it. After my first post of this past year, "I'm Baaaaack," an anonymous commenter said that instead of insulting everyone and making fun of the wine world I should use my talents to contribute to the conversation. I like to think I have.



52 comments:

Samantha Dugan said...

I think it is fitting that I be the first to comment here. I was absolutely "In" after that I'm Back post and have been, rather annoyingly I am sure, at your side ever since. Your talent renders me speechless, your wit scares me and your sweetness...the Ron sweetness warms me. I love you and am so proud to be a part of this community that you have built.

ANONYMOUS I said...

Hosemaster, Sir!

Happy Anniversary...I'm raising a glass of Dumb Perignon (made by Larry, Moet & Curly) to those who don't get it and a glass of Grand Annee to those who do.

ANONYMOUS I

Charlie Olken said...

Community.

That is what the best blogs create. They bring together like-minded people who have wine in their DNA and interests that hold them together.

Not everyone gets comedy--real comedy. Not everyone gets Pantagruel or sees more in Don Quixote than windmills. Not everyone enjoys the lampooning of others, be they bloggers or Presidents or Jay Leno.

But most of us who gather here would gleefully serve bad wine to Glenn Beck's prostate, and so I think you misjudge us.

And I am guessing that many of us checked HMW every day during the hiatus because we do get it, and we do get you.

And for that, we thank you. Oh, and for the record, I have tasted with you, and I will be the judge of your tasting acumen--lest you take yourself too seriously on that score.

Jimmie Schnipke said...

Dear FunMaster,

Like the rest of the kids here, I like stopping by your backyard and playing. It's a hard business that needs your biting humor.

With all of the 'Jabberwocky' on the internet, when your 'vorpal blade goes snicker-snack,' I know it's time to smile.

Lewis Carroll would be proud. Thanks...

Thomas said...

Me, I've been happy to be just another Gargantua persiflaging with Mr. Pantagruel as we judge Hosemaster's raillery with his band of swains.

For your next post, I want you to skewer a blogger with language that is completely obscure to the blogger; that should be easy...

Pinball Wizard Daddy said...

Yes, most of them do not speak Swedish or Swahili.

Of course, neither do any of the rest of us, but you just tell us where to laugh and we will.

John Cesano said...

Ron,

I think you are starting to appreciate that your HoseMaster channeled writing has made more a heightened recognizability or profile, but I am amazed that you don't seem to recognize the high regard many have for your writing, both in terms of sheer talent as well as sensibility.

I come to your blog more often than any other. While you claim a mere four laughs from your own work in the last year, I find a greater number in each of your posts - but perhaps I am too easily amused.

In the guise of the HoseMaster, through satire and comedy, you say what many think. You say it better than we ever could. You make us wish we were as fearless, talented, and funny.

Well, that's how I feel anyway.

Thank you for writing.

John

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,

Thank you. I don't think I built a community, just sort of attracted one. Isn't it weird how we have no idea who all the others are who read us? We just know the small handful who comment. More and more I hear about people who read or have heard of the HoseMaster, but from whom I've never heard. That's cool, but a bit disconcerting. I think most of them hate what I do, but then that's just my natural insecurity. Or, mostly, I suspect, they show up to find out who I'm insulting.

And you know I love you too, Gorgeous.

Anon1,

Your contributions always shine here. You regularly outpun me, for which I am grateful. Thanks.

Charlie,

Oh, I'm not in the best blogs category, Charlie, I didn't even get a Poodle nomination.

I'm am incredibly flattered by the amazing credentials and talents of the folks who follow me and participate. To have someone you are a longtime fan of become a fan of yours is an incredible honor. And that's what's happened to me when you showed up here, Charlie. Doesn't mean I'm not going to parody your blog one day, if you ever really have one, but it is an honor to have you tossing your wit around here regularly.

I've also tasted with Anon1, so you both know I'm a fraud.

Jimmie,

Because wine has prestige it also has plenty of pomposity surrounding it. It nurtures comedy like rain nurtures bortryis. And my jokes are just as moldy.

Mr. Dodgson had Lewis Carroll, I have the HoseMaster. But I shouldn't be mentioned in the same breath with him. But thank you.

Thomas,

I don't need Swahili or Swedish for most of them, just viticulture would probably work.

Thanks for regularly chiming in here, too, my friend. I know you've sworn off commenting most places, I'm honored you still hang around here. I think.

John,

Thank you for those very kind words. Satire has to be fearless or it smells. And, like great wine, balance is critical. There is a line one can cross and the satire becomes ugly and mean-spirited. The closer you creep up to that line, the more you make folks cringe thinking you will cross that line, the better the satire. I always try to at least put one foot on that line--I'd rather cross it than be too afraid to get near it.

I do hope people come here for a laugh. Of course, if they do, today's post is a big disappointment.

abc said...

I tasted with you before ever reading here. Though if memory serves it was more of a conversation that tasting. At ZAP even.

This "wine reviews mean very little if you don't know the person reviewing the wines, if you haven't tasted with them, understand their background and biases" is why I so rarely write tasting notes on my own blog. Otoh, I seem to only write about canning--draw your own conclusions.

Happy anniversary.

Thomas said...

Oh my, Ron.

Heimoff almost sucked me in today. In his latest post he blatantly states that if a winemaker "fixes" a wine to his liking and he gives it a 92, that indicates an increase in the wine's quality.

In other words, he is the arbiter of wine quality.

Amazing stuff, and I almost responded.

Charlie Olken said...

Tom--

You should have. And Steve would have told you that his opinion is that wines that score more highly with him are better wines--in his opinion.

Hard to argue with that. It is his opinion. He is a critic. So am I. Our opinions are our opinions, and the wines we rate most highly are, a priori, better wines in our opinions.

If a critic cannot own up to his own opinion, he is not much of a critic. Now, whether you agree with our opinions or believe we ought to ever have opinions is something else again.

But, unless one wants to say that no opinion is worth the price of admission, then Heimoff is entitled to have opinions and to believe in them.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Amy Love,

Yes, I remember that fortuitous meeting at ZAP. A lucky moment for me.

The wine notes on wine blogs are clearly masturbatory. No one leaves satisfied but the blogger. I just end up having to use a Kleenex to wipe off my screen.

Charlie,

I love it when you're intentionally provocative and baiting the crowd. Don't make me bring back the Million Point Scale.

Whenever Heimoff's number of comments starts to slip he resorts to a post about either Parker, or the 100 Point Scale, or wine blogging. Just like when it's Sweeps Month on television and the news rediscovers the shame of pornography and goes undercover with prostitutes. The 100 Point Scale, essentially, is the prostitute of wine blogs.

There, how's that for provocative?

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Now can we go back to our regularly scheduled praise of ME?

ANONYMOUS I said...

Nice comment (in my opinion), Hosemaster, Sir!

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Anon1,

There, now that's more like it.

I just might have to break out the Heimoff spoof soon. Man, it's almost too easy.

Stick It To 'Em Daddy said...

Ron--

Enough of the mealymouthed, soft as a Modesto jug wine comments.

Sometimes, someone has to tell it like it is. Stick around, kid, I can teach you a thing or two about sticking it to people. No charge, of course.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Stuck Daddy,

Yup, you're right. As always.

But you're supposed to counter that whenever the HoseMaster needs attention he takes a hiatus or steps out of character and writes a post begging for praise. That's my Heimoff Maneuver.

Also, I was hoping to lure some of my lurkers into joining the Flying Circus. Ah, screw 'em.

Brian Overstreet said...

Ron:

I'm one of those long-time readers who have been too timid to comment thus far. I just wanted to throw my hat in the ring and congratulate you on a great year. In many ways I think your blog is one of the most relevant today. And, believe me, your writing has caused me to laugh out loud way more than just four times in the past year.

Best regards,
Brian

Paid Shill Daddy said...

I love's ya, man. You're the best. The Henny Youngmen of the wine blogosphere. The Eddie Cantor of Cabernet Franc. The Chuck E. Cheese of Chablis. The Pee Wee Herman of hedonism. The Anon 1 of Albarino.

The best. I mean, in other words, the best.

Ron Washam said...

Brian,

I suspect you're not timid by nature, and there's certainly no need to be timid around here. Thanks for the kind words. I, actually, wasn't fishing for compliments, it's just nice to be able to speak in my own voice once in a while. I swear to God, that HoseMaster guy drives me nuts.

Please comment more often.

Shill Daddy,

I prefer Nattering Nabob of Negativism and Nebbiolo. Or Pusillanimous Pinhead of Picpoul. But, hey, I'll take whatever I can get.

Picpoul Poppa said...

The Nattering Nabob of Negativism and Nebbiolo strikes me as redundant. Either that or a two-fer.

Ron Washam said...

I agnew you were going to say that.

Dionysius said...

What is this? Is Jeff Lefevere writing this blog now? Did the Hosemaster transform overnight into a cross-dressing sissy navel-gazing WINE BLOGGER? Maybe the Hosemaster needs to douche his own prostate gland with an 05 DaVinci Chianti Riserva: Balanced, spicy, chewy & very "modern-style." Your mileage may vary depending on how much you dig prune. $30 A-

Afterwards, please keep up the good work. Thank you.
Your pal,
Dionysius

Dave said...

Dare I posit...

The Contraindicative Count of Charbonno in a Can

Signed,

The Dastardly Doofus of Durif

PS I rate you at 4.5 belly laughs per paragraph

Thomas said...

Praise, all praise the hosehead, er, master.

My verify word is "hocut." What a pun that can be.

Ron Washam said...

Dionysius,

Who is Jeff Lefevere?

Thomas said...

Ron,

LaFevre = goodgrape.com

Marcia Macomber said...

Only a year??? Where has the time gone?

From HMW’s paronomasia in the continuing saga, The Hosemaster’s Honest Guide to Grapes and M.S. Conspiracy, to the paraphilemia in the comments section b/w Ms. Dugan and yourself, you’ve managed to keep your readers far from pandiculation as we checked in each and every day of the past year -- post or no-post, Ron.

With far more than four coruscations in the past year (your count – not ours) within the Blog Parodies or Wine Myths, you’ve kept this little ether-eal (does that word work here?) world far from quotidian for the rest of us. And while you may argue your little blog is nugatory in the grand scheme of things (outside of your own creative…urges), we few, we happy few (7 or 13?), we band of bavardagiers enjoy the persiflagic adventures of the HoseMaster. Poodles be damned!

Here’s to another year with the Hosemaster! :-)

Sip with Me! said...

I don't come here for laughs, though I get them more regularly here than elsewhere. I come for your honesty, your fearless writing and alright, damn it, I come here for the laughs. Thanks for giving me what I want, you more often than not make me a very happy girl (how often do you hear that?)!! Please don't go away again!

sanonymous said...

Dear Ron,

you and your alter ego should get a room. Also, how am I supposed to know what not to randomly pick up at the liquour store if the blogger who belittles other bloggers no longer provides examples?

Sincerely,
Anonymous

Ron Washam said...

Thomas,

Yeah, I know, I was just being sarcastic. I know who GoofyGrape is.

Marcia Darling,

You have run away with the HoseMaster Comment of the Post award, though I haven't the slightest idea what you said. And, well, that makes you an honorary HoseMistress for a Day. Congrats!

And thank you.

Tamara,

The word "fearless" has appeared here more than once, and, frankly, standing up to wine bloggers takes about as much courage as posting anonymous insults on blogs. So fearless I am not. My Gorgeous Samantha is fearless. I'm more feckless. I haven't had a good feck in ages. But thank you for stopping by my stupid blog and contributing to the madness.

Sanonymous,

We have a room, and it's nicely padded. Thanks for joining us there.

Thomas said...

Marcia made me grab that friggin' dictionary, the one I don't need.

Hose, you will be proud of me--or maybe you won't--but I finally erased from my bookmarks a number of wine blogs. I discovered that is the best way for me to keep my blood pressure and my time online at a minimum.

Now, I won't know what they are saying to match my level of caring about what they say and I'll never know who got the 20101 top award--until you tell us.

Geez, is that an oil slick I see on Keuka Lake? Looks like BP lied about the spill's potential reach.

Thomas said...

20101--where'd the extra one come from?

Marcia Macomber said...

Hey, Thomas, I needed the dusty dictionary, too! Ron's persiflaging ain't in my daily lexicon. But it's sure fun to dig out a bit of arcane verbiage...dust 'em off.

Oh, lookie here! I got the 'vingrail' of word verifs.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Thomas,

For all of my carping at them, I rarely read wine blogs aside from those few on my blog list. If I decide to lampoon them, it only takes a few minutes to read a few posts and, because most are so formulaic and tone-deaf, get a pretty vivid picture of how to satirize them. So good for you for minding your blood pressure and deleting them from your bookmarks. One wonders why they were bookmarked in the first place.

Marcia Love,

You sent me scurrying to my Funk and Wagnall's, for which I thank you. It's an honor to have you here on my meretricious blog.

Thomas said...

"One wonders why they were bookmarked in the first place."

Because, silly me, I once thought that reading wine blogs would continue my wine education and also provide connections to further my writing career without me having to be a blatant self-promoter. In other words, at first, I didn't understand the nature of blogging.

Wines for the People said...

Each and every day, Marcia? Some of us check more often than that, if only for comment updates.

Everyone else looked up Marcia's big words in the dictionary? In the true spirit of the Wine Blogger, I just pretended I knew what it all meant. (So what was she going on about, anyway?)

1WineDude said...

Doesn't this Dionysius guy owe me some kind of royalty check now...?

Ron Washam, HMW said...

WinePeeps,

I think she was being nice, but I was too scared to look it up. I'm pretty sure copraphagous is flattery, isn't it?

1WineDoody,

Yeah, the same amount you get from Google hits. It's in the mail.

And, while you're here, congrats on the Parker interview on your site. Man, interviewing a dead guy is very impressive! However, I'm stunned that a) Parker didn't mention me as one of his favorite blogs, and b) you didn't interview your Puff Daddy first. Oh, wait, maybe he turned you down.

Have you written your Poodle Award speech yet? Speak slowly...

Thomas said...

...speak slowly yes, and according to what's been said around here about your stature, lower the mic stand.

This verification word is too good:
progropa

Do they have annual meetings behind large screens or in dark allies?

Thomas said...

allies?

Try alleys.

Jimmie Schnipke said...

Ron,

Your comment count will climb to triple digits again...as long as Thomas keeps typing...

Thomas said...

Jimmy found me out.

Thomas said...

Oops, that's Jimmie.

See how it works?

Jimmie Schnipke said...

Thomas,

Does it come with living in the "Finger" lakes?

Thomas said...

Yas.

Thomas said...

I mean, yes.

PaulG said...

Wine is too small a universe for the Hosemaster, in my view. I want more scrutiny of things that matter - not wine - how about food! Bluegrass music? Cats? CNN? Think big, oh Master. And by the way, Happy Anniversary. More more more!!!

Ron Washam said...

Paul,

Cats, not Poodles?

Hey, it's HoseMaster of Wine, not HoseMaster of Pussies. Or HoseMaster of Spotted Dick.

Thanks, Paul, I try to keep it fun and weird and interesting, but the more bloggers hate me, the more I want to make it about their tired circle jerk. And I put the jerk in circle jerk.

However, I shall take your suggestions under consideration.

PaulG said...

Hosemaster of Spotted Dick! An Aubrey/Maturin addict I see. Bravo encore, bravo!

Ron Washam said...

Paul,

If only I had one hundredth the talent of Patrick O'Brian...

O'Brian is a writer's writer and Jack Aubrey one of the great characters in all of English literature.

Man, I do have one smart little group here. I doubt there are Aubrey and Maturin references on too many other wine blogs. O'Brian was incapable of writing a dull sentence. NectarDrinkers incapable of an interesting one.

Paul, you and I have to hoist a flagon or two together.

Thomas said...

My wife and I once created and hosted a five-course dinner from O'Brian-mentioned foods (including Spotted Dick). We paired each course with a Madeira--Rainwater, Sercial, Verdelho, Bual, and Malmsey--because thta is the type of wine most mentioned in his books.