Monday, January 30, 2012

The HoseMaster's Basics of Wine Appreciation




With education in mind, I’ve been asked to begin a series of columns devoted to the basics of wine knowledge. OK, basically I asked myself. You're never too old to learn. What qualifies me for this daunting task, you may well ask. Like I care what you think. Like anybody reads blogs. Like I wouldn’t exaggerate my qualifications just like you did when you applied for that miserable job you’re doing now in this crappy economy that’s about to collapse like a travel agent school. But since you asked, for nineteen years I was a sommelier. You can ask any other sommelier--I know everything there is to know about wine. Ask renowned sommelier, Rajat Parr (if he has a stroke, is he then Rajat Bogey?) I combine the absolute authority of Wikipedia with the brilliant insight of Glenn Beck. Only I would think to compare wine tasting groups to Hitler Youth. After all, both grow up to assign numbers.

Let us begin with the basics. When this occasional series ends, you too will be a wine expert. Just what the world needs.

What are grapes?

Grapes are the berries produced by grapevines for the purpose of spreading their reproductive seeds via the intestinal tracts of animals. This is detectable on the nose of many wines. Grapevines are self-pollinating, and often embarrassed when caught at it. Interestingly, it’s those grapes caught self-pollinating that go on to make Blush wine.

How many different varieties of grapes are there?

Most authorities agree that there are at least two. Red and white. This ignores the most popular grape among wines that score fewer than 89 points--sour. OK, all kidding aside, there are approximately 6000 different varieties of Vitis vinifera made into wine in the world. Vitis vinifera is the botanical name for the European grape species that the great wines of the world are produced from. Literally translated, “Vitis vinifera” means “I’m vine, how are you?”

When was wine first “discovered?”

Scientists recently discovered a winery in Armenia that was 6000 years old. Surprisingly, a few amphorae of one of the original vintages were still intact and for sale. The “Reserve” had Cher’s picture on it.

Why do you swirl the wine in the glass?

Wine needs exposure to oxygen in order to release its aromatics. Sort of like a flasher. Swirling the wine in your cheap stemware is basically unzipping.



Blowing off bad aromas
What are you looking for when you smell the wine?

Well, that’s a nice mixed metaphor. Who wrote these questions? Sheesh. OK, first of all, you are smelling the wine to see if it displays any noticeable flaws that would keep you from putting it in your mouth—corkiness, sulfur issues, it smells like Marvin Shanken in a Speedo… We’ll get to wine flaws in a later volume of “Wine Basics.” If no flaws are detected, you are probably not qualified to be a wine taster. Virtually every wine these days is flawed in one way or another. (Sure, they seem gorgeous and hold a lot of promise, but, underneath, they’re poison, they’ll make you gag and leave a bitter taste for the rest of your life! Oh. Sorry. I was talking about my ex. Never mind.) It’s the wine expert’s job to uncover that flaw and ruin everyone else’s enjoyment of the wine by declaring that the wine is “Undrinkable!” in a loud, inebriated, sports talk radio voice. Remember, in today’s world, volume conveys authority. Always better to be loud than right.

What about specific aromas you detect?

OK, here’s the problem. Humans can’t detect specific aromas in wine. Nor can anyone else, like wine critics. Come on, raspberries?! Really? Cherries, cola, vanilla, cedar? Get over it. Essentially what happens is wine experts memorize fruit that supposedly goes with a variety. Chardonnay = peach, pear, pineapple. So you stick your nose in a glass of Chardonnay and you say, “I get pears, maybe some pineapple, is that vanilla?” Voila, you’re a wine judge! Or you can make up outrageous aromas and get everyone else to agree those aromas are present. “You know what I smell? You know when you eat fruit cocktail off a naked Japanese woman? Yeah, that.” I guarantee people will nod their heads and say you nailed it. The aroma, I mean.

Don’t most wines smell about the same?

All 89 point wines smell like other 89 point wines. They smell like failure.

After you’re done smelling the wine, then what?

Pour it down your pants and pretend you’re on “Glee.”

You taste it, numbskull.

What is the proper method to critically taste and evaluate a wine?

Take a sip. Don’t be in a big hurry. Slosh the wine around in your mouth. Most experts actually slurp the wine, inhaling air through pursed lips and making sounds like Kim Kardashian sitting on Naugahyde. This doesn’t do anything to help taste the wine, but it sounds cool.

Try to taste the different components of the wine to see if they are in balance. The basic components are alcohol, acidity, tannin, fruit, oak, and WD-40. Does any one of those components stand out? If a wine is balanced, they should all work in harmony, like the Flying Wallendas. If it isn’t balanced, it’s like Flying Wallendas on unforgiving pavement. A Wallenda omelette. This is not good in a fine wine.

Why do we spit?

You don’t have taste buds in your throat any more than Chaz Bono has an Adam’s apple. Expectorating means you can taste more wines and not become inebriated, and that’s the purpose of tasting. If you’re nervous about spitting, practice at home. Use water and practice spitting into a cup, preferably your spouse’s. Eventually, use the method professionals prefer. Go to YouTube and search for “Danny Thomas Spit Take.” That’s the way Robert Parker does it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Few Minutes Decomposing with Andy Rooney




I’ve been in touch with the late Andy Rooney recently. It may surprise you to know that I speak with many dead people—Jess Jackson, Robert Mondavi, Robert Parker, Ron Paul, Gabe Kaplan, Richard Dawson… There is a wisdom in dead people that I find compelling. Andy Rooney was kind enough to allow me to publish his posthumous thoughts about wine and the wine business. So if you don’t like the opinions, don’t blame me. I’m just channeling the old fuck. Pardon me, dead fuck.

ON BLIND TASTING

Every wine critic and wine publication these days claims to taste wine blind. I don’t understand this. They say that tasting wines blind takes prejudice and subjectivity out of the equation. First of all, I don’t know about you, but I simply don’t believe they’re tasting the wines without having any idea at all what the wines are. These are professional wine critics, or so they’d have us believe, you’d think they’d have a pretty good idea all the time what they’re tasting, whether it’s in a brown bag or not. And they’re human, well, all of them except Matt Kramer who’s actually a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day balloon, and humans cheat, or leave themselves loopholes. But let’s say, tongue in cheek, that I believe that they taste the wines blind. Why do they think that makes their ratings and scores more legitimate? By the way, most of them score on the 100 point scale and say they know what a 94 tastes like at least as well as the other guys who know what a 94 tastes like. I think Oliver Sacks wrote a New Yorker piece on a man who thought he knew what numbers tasted like. The guy had brain damage.

I think it’s stupid to pretend objectivity when you’re a critic of anything. We know that the critics we like have prejudices. We might even admire his taste in prejudices. A movie critic doesn’t go to a movie and not know who the director is. They don’t have special films made without the credits for a movie critic to view. They don’t send book reviewers galleys that don’t have the author’s name on them. They don’t blindfold Hugh Hefner and give him foldouts that only have Scratch ‘n’ Sniff.

Let’s grow up, wine critics, and forget the blind tasting claims. I think we’ll get numbers that taste better.


ON WINE BLOGS

I read somewhere that there are more than a thousand wine blogs. Isn’t “blog” kind of a stupid word? It sounds like something you hork up when you have a nasty chest cold, or you’ve been smoking unfiltered Camels for 30 years. Or maybe it’s what camels hork up. A thousand wine blogs sounds like 995 too many to me. Isn’t there something we can do about there being too many wine blogs? Yes, I know, we can simply not read them, and, let’s be honest, even the most popular wine blog gets fewer hits than a YouTube video of a cat using my balls as a scratching post. I miss that cat. I love a good subordinate claws. But even if no one reads wine blogs, it bothers me that they exist. I don’t have anything to do with wine-of-the-month clubs, but it bothers me that they exist too. Are there that many jackasses to support that many wine-of-the-month clubs? It bothers me that there are.

I think wine bloggers should voluntarily start removing their blogs from the Internet. I don’t mean stop writing them, I mean deleting them. We love the Internet, it’s a modern miracle, let’s not leave all this crap just laying around for someone else to clean up. Let’s start with that HoseMaster of Wine. I don’t know about you, but I think he’s about as funny as leprosy.


ON NATURAL WINES

There’s been too much talk lately about natural wines. Some people even call them naked wines, but that seems counterproductive if you like them. I think most naked things are disgusting, don’t you? When critics and winemakers talk about natural wine I start to get nauseated. Just another wine term no one can accurately define, like “terroir,” and “Meritage,” and “profit.” They make it sound like natural wine is better. These are people who wear a lot of makeup and carefully groom their body hair. Apparently, wine is better when it’s natural, but people are not. I think I’d trust the people who promote natural wine more if they had eyebrows like mine, and abundant nose hair, and unshaven legs. They mostly wear too much unnatural makeup.

I’ve tasted a lot of natural wines and too many of them are terrible. A lot of unnatural wines are terrible too. Can’t we just call crap crap and leave it at that? Crap is a word I can define. You’re reading it.


Friday, January 20, 2012

Weaners




Damned Weaner
They ignore our laws, our borders, our boundaries, our whistles and clickers. They take jobs from unemployed Americans. They breed relentlessly and resist any form of birth control. They congregate in large numbers in parks and on street corners begging. They urinate in public. Yes, we depend on them. But at what cost? They never bother to learn the English language. They tax our abilities to feed them, take food from the mouths of our grandmothers. They smell. They have horrible breath. They want a better life but don’t feel the need to contribute to American society. Most of them are illegal, unlicensed--estimates go as high as 70%. When do we stop the madness? When do we finally rid ourselves of this economic and societal plague? When do we finally throw them all out of this great republic and slam the door behind them once and for all?

I’m talking, of course, about dogs.

Or, to be politically correct, Canine Americans. Or, to be politically incorrect, Weaners. Off the bitch’s teat and onto ours—Weaners. Lazy damn Weaners. Isn’t time that we as a nation face the Weaner problem the way the dogs themselves do? Stick our nose into the dark tunnel of Weaners and inhale until we recognize the shit we’re knee-deep in? Our lives and our economy teeter on the brink of disaster, yet we ignore the root cause of the problem—Dogs! They’re not citizens. They are not entitled to the American way of life. They haven’t earned those rights as we have as citizens of this great country, by paying taxes, voting, and serving on juries. Have you ever seen a Weaner on jury duty? OK, there was a bitch on “American Idol,” but that’s not the same.

Now before you start calling me prejudiced let me say that I do not condemn all Weaners. Many fine Weaners contribute to our society. Many have served in the military; and a few dedicated Weaners have sniffed out more drugs than the entire wait staff at Hooters. Weaners do wonderful work with the blind and the infirm, hunt down escaped criminals, fetch Dick Cheney hunting accident victims… Some of my best friends are Weaners. My anger isn’t directed at those Weaners here legally, those who contribute to society and have real jobs, like working for Michael Vick. No, those Weaners are welcome.

Making the elderly homeless
But what about the others? The curs and mongrels and half-breeds that are bankrupting us. Let’s look, as an example of what I’m talking about, at wineries. Almost every winery you visit in California, and other states as well, depends upon the labor of illegal Weaners! This is unconscionable, and leaves as bad a taste in my mouth as Monterey County Cabernet. Nearly every winery has a winery dog, a Weaner, to greet you as you arrive to taste their $100 Cabernet. A recent survey found that fully 75% of those winery Weaners are illegal and unlicensed aliens! This is a shameful fact that is right under our collective noses. And those Weaners, hundreds of them, take jobs from Americans. Imagine if Wal-Mart fired all of their octogenarian greeters and replaced them with mutts. The uproar would be deafening! And what’s the difference, you ask? Both Grampa and the Weaner have a wet spot about belt high! Well, yes, but Grampa is a citizen of this great country, a citizen entitled to a job. Yes, the Weaner works for less, but I’ll bet if you ask him, Grampa would also work for tummy rubs and a handful of dog biscuits. Isn’t that what Grandma gives him every night for dinner on his Wal-Mart salary? Every time a Dog greets you at a tasting room remember that because of that Weaner one of our senior citizens, maybe someone in your family, perhaps your weird Uncle Benny who wears condom wrappers as war medals, has been denied a job. Perhaps your bottle of wine is a little bit cheaper because of this illegal worker, but aren’t you willing to pay a bit more if it means a stronger economy for you, for your family, for your grandchildren?

Next time you’re visiting wine country and a Weaner greets you at a winery door, demand that the winery hire an American citizen to work as the greeter. Be loud and forceful so that everyone can hear you. Refuse to buy their overpriced wines until they agree. And, maybe, just maybe, if you’re angry enough, lure the Weaner into your car and take him to the nearest Humane Society where they’ll give him a scholarship to study abroad with their prestigious organization, Youth in Asia. You’ll be doing the Weaner, and all of us, a favor, while simultaneously helping lower the unemployment rate.

Weaners are the wine business’ dirty little secret. Owners say they check their Weaners, but do they? Most winery owners play fast and loose with their Weaners, believe me, that’s why so many of them end up in divorce court and lose their wineries. As right-thinking Americans, we need to rid the wine business of Weaners. Round them up and get rid of them. The future of our country depends upon it.

I have an idea. Maybe we should follow the example of that great democracy North Korea and grind them up to feed the hard-working men and women who pick the grapes. Those fine folks are the very backbone of the wine business and not squeamish about what they eat. Just seems like an obvious solution.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Best New Wine Books



I am always asked to recommend wine books. Each year hundreds of new wine books are published. Taken together, they provide more than 15 original thoughts and more than 25 things worth knowing about wine! With some foresight, a novice wine enthusiast could spend a year reading these books and emerge with more than six minutes of insight. Which is more than one can say about reading the collected works of Glenn Beck, which would more than likely produce brain hemorrhaging and the desire to tithe 10 percent of your income to Summers Eve.


Receiving an MS
As part of my dedication to wine and wine knowledge, I read every wine book published, except those written by an author with an M.S. No need to read those. Do you remember the scene in "The Wizard of Oz" when the Scarecrow is given a diploma by the great and powerful Oz and, therefore, is automatically a genius? Same thing with an M.S. Only instead of a brain, they believe the diploma gives them a palate. 

Here are my favorite new wine books.

 Natural Wine Is Crap by Rudolf Steiner (translated from Austrian by Professor Irwin Corey)
 
Originally published in 1932, here is Steiner's argument for never using organic or biodynamic practices as an excuse for making crappy wine. "Biodynamic practices were never intended to make wine," Steiner says, "that's just stupid. Wine is the most manipulated thing on the table, aside from my nephew's ding-dong. There is no such thing as 'natural' wine any more than there is 'natural' Wienerschnitzel. By definition, wine, from start to finish, from vineyard to bottle, is a product of man's intervention, so it's about as natural as mustard gas. How ignorant are people to believe 'natural wine' has any meaning? It's like thinking mannequins regurgitate plastic vomit."

This is a must read for those who will certainly never read it.

A History of The Hundred Point Scale by Madge N. Airy
The 100 Point Scale--Weigh Stupid

Perhaps the most controversial wine book of 2011, Airy's book argues that the Hundred Point Scale was originally conceived as a joke. Her meticulously researched book includes historic letters from Robert Parker to several of his attorney friends that explain, as one letter puts it, “The scores I add to my reviews have no meaning, but, hell, they’re a damned funny joke. And now people believe them! What a bunch of rubes. I made up the scores just like I made up billable hours.” From there, Airy reveals insider Wine Spectator emails from Marvin Shanken to Spectator wine critics that say, “Just write the descriptions using the approved Wine Adjective Software and we’ll assign the numbers in the editorial meeting. This means you, Fish. You wouldn’t know a 96 from a 69, which explains why your moustache smells funny.”

Airy makes a compelling case that the 100 Point Scale was diabolically forced on consumers much like the SAT, Credit Ratings and Ralph Nader.

The Oxford Encyclopedia of Wine Encyclopedias edited by Jancis Robinson, Oz Clarke, Hugh Johnson, and Tom Stevenson; Introduction by Larry the Cable Guy, MW

This is a must-have for every wine lover. Worth it just for Larry the Cable Guy, MW’s lucid introduction. “Hell, my grandpa made wine every bit as good as anything from France. French wine is stupid, and I’ll tell you why. French people make it. Same people as make Renaults and Jean-Luc Godard movies. Them people that worship Jerry Lewis and think Roman Polanski has a “Genius Get Out of Jail Free” card taped to his Andouille sausage. All they know how to make right is white flags.” On top of that, you get 1200 pages of recycled wine facts expertly alphabetized. No one knows how to alphabetize like the English. Wondering what comes first, Petite Sirah or Petite Syrah? (I won’t give it away.) It’s here in this handy reference guide to handy reference guides. I can’t wait until next year’s blockbuster, “The Oxford Guide to the Oxford Encyclopedia of The World Atlas of Wine Encyclopedias: A Complete Guide.”

There’s an MS in My Pants, or At Least Something is Warm, Smelly and Squishy by Sara Doctor Indehaus.

A fascinating tell-all book by an MS candidate that reveals the secretive, misunderstood and dangerous cult of Master Sommeliers. Indehaus, for the first time in print, reveals the secret Master Sommelier Oath, “They don’t know shit, and we do.” She takes us step by step through the sommelier tests, including her final oral exams. Who knew they had gloryholes? Yes, this is the real world of MS and the people who strive who join their ranks. It will surprise you, it will enlighten you, and, most of all, it will make you want to spit.




Thursday, January 12, 2012

Dept. of Lame Premises



MY CRYSTAL BALLS


The beginning of the year brings out the prognosticator in all of us, and since I’m over 50 I had to have my prognostate checked. Everything came out fine, if slightly sulfurous around my fingernails. I have an amazing ability to predict the future of the wine business. Most of you will remember I predicted that HoseMaster of Wine would fold. That Jess Jackson would also fold. And that Constellation would sell off its Australian wine portfolio because they found out there aren’t any Mexicans in Australia. So as you read my predictions for 2012 keep my uncanny accuracy in mind. Now, if only my prognostate exam had been un-canny.


President Obama will serve a screwtop in the White House—Speaker of the House John Boehner.

"There ain't no flies on me. Ribbit"
Our quaint little print wine publications will start to slowly disband or merge. It will be revealed that Stephen Tanzer is actually Allen Meadows the Burghound, who, in turn, is actually a pseudonym for Stephen Hawking who tastes every wine submitted via an enema. The hard part is spitting. Ironic, considering his name… Robert Parker finally admits that he’s dead and points to hiring Jay Miller as proof of an EEG flatter than sales of Wine Advocate subscriptions…Jancis Robinson responds, “You think you’re dead! I hired that bozo from Vornography! I’m a suicide!”… Connoisseurs’ Guide, Wine and Spirits, and Wine Enthusiast merge to form “Connoisseurs’ Guide to Enthusiastic Spirits.” Tom Cruise gets Three Poofs and a Best Bi... Wine Spectator is sold to Riedel which then breaks it up into 29 different publications, each dedicated to only one variety. Riedel argues that the size of the print and the quality of the paper determine how much sense the ratings make. Consumers fall for their bullshit again… 

DNA evidence will show that Gruner Veltliner is a cross between Riesling and a durian.

An article in the “Journal of Psychiatry” will use wine blogs as a resource for studying megalomania. “Wine bloggers,” the authors say, “ exhibit the classic signs of megalomania—an unshakable belief in their importance mixed with the conviction that they and their opinions are special and powerful despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.” The only cure, the authors conclude, is for wine bloggers to be “…systematically neutered with the new Rabbit TM Genocide Edition...” Except for the HoseMaster, who should be “…lobotomized. Again.”

Pinot Noir’s popularity will begin to wane in the wake of the discovery that many of the most popular brands were made from expired cans of Cherry Coke. This is discovered by a Denny’s waitress at a blind tasting of Marcassin Pinot Noir… Helen Turley appears in a Super Bowl ad for Pepsi… Grenache replaces Pinot Noir as the red wine of choice for sissies, and everyone proclaims New Zealand the best place in the world to grow it even though no one believes it to be true… Constellation buys every New Zealand winery and bottles the same Sauvignon Blanc with 200 different labels. This was already being done.

Big Chief Enologist
The Natural Wine movement in California becomes contentious when Robert Sinskey Winery announces that, moving forward, not only will its wines be made with native yeast, but its grapes will be harvested by Native Americans. “And I’m doing it without reservation,” said Sinskey, “so Sioux me.” …Other Natural Wine halfwits up the ante by announcing they will only use barrels made from wood harvested within 50 miles of the winery, and not wood that was harvesting using a chainsaw. “We Hire Local Beavers” is their new marketing slogan…They are successfully sued by “Girls Gone Wild.”

Jess Jackson and Robert Mondavi form a partnership to start a winery in Hell. Prosecco is their first release, appropriate because, as is usual with Prosecco, it smells of embalming fluid... James Suckling rates it 94...Nobody gives an SO2 sandwich... Satan serves it as his house wine on the recommendation of his personal sommelier, Gary Vaynerchuk. Satan complains about the purchase of Vaynerchuk’s soul, “I got screwed like a Penn State ballboy on that deal.”

Climate change will drastically affect vineyards all over the world... Most of the wine world drops two degrees—the totally useless WSET and CSW… The average temperature in Napa Valley drops, forcing local wineries to pool their resources and raise the temperature by burning piles of money—as if hiring Michel Rolland wasn’t enough… The Germans are forced to make Eiswein by storing the Riesling grapes in Angela Merkel’s pantyhose… Champagne grapes are harvested at such a shocking level of ripeness that there is even detectable fruit flavor in Veuve Clicquot… In Italy, the government does nothing while native Sicilian grapes get super-ripe and create higher and higher alcohol levels, prompting the headline, “Rome fiddles while Nero d’Avola burns”…




Thursday, January 5, 2012

PARKENSTEIN! Part the Last




Monkton, MD, 23 October 20__

My Dearest Sister,

I had a hard time believing all that Parkenstein told me. Only a madman could believe himself a God, and then believe he could pass along His Doctrine of Infallibility to monsters of his own making, thereby making each of them a sort of Pope, emissaries who speak the word of Parkenstein and have direct access to that almighty God and his insane system of Numbers—they were Parkenstein’s Howdy Deuteronomy. And, though he was clearly insane, I came to accept his story as truth. Parkenstein, his life, his career, his reputation, had been destroyed by a monster he had created with his own hands. It had the makings of a tragedy, a classic Geek tragedy. But I shall let Parkenstein finish his own tale.

The monster I had created [Parkenstein said to me] had come to hate me. He had learned my language, the language of countless adjectives, exaggeration, numbers, +’s, and disingenuousness, and he had learned it too well. His work on my behalf took on a crazed quality and I began to believe he was simply assigning numbers randomly, perhaps using a dartboard or by drawing them from a hat, which is what I do, only what the hell else can you do when you have to do it 150 times a day? I didn’t give the monster permission to do that. I was the last to recognize how ridiculous and meaningless his work was. I was just so proud of my creation, so amazed that I had given him a life, I just couldn’t believe that his numbers were that bizarre, that inflated. That was the first sign, I see now, that he wanted to destroy me.

Why did he want to destroy me? I don’t know the answer to that. But it must have been money. I had had ideas of creating a female monster to keep him company, but what female monster wants to marry a guy with a fish stick dick? And, besides, I’d already hired Karen MacNeil, so a female monster would have been redundant. No, it was the monster’s desire for money, which I assume came from that damned Suckling brain I’d used, that must have driven him to hate me. I paid him what he was worth—chump change. He was NOBODY. He was only someone because Parkenstein! said he was someone. They’d have laughed his verga de pescado out of Spain if it weren’t for me. They’d have made a blubber piƱata out of him. But the monster believed in his own power, believed he had earned it. It was like I had created a twin.

The monster set out to gather money and ruin me at the same time. I admit now, the monster was a lot smarter than I’d thought. It had been a mistake to give him a brain—it’s not necessary for the job. It just seemed like the right thing to do. But it doesn’t take a brain to be a wine critic and assign numbers, it just takes balls. And I’d given him two salmon croquettes to go with the fish stick. That would have been plenty.

The monster began to accept money. This was strictly forbidden. No one I created could accept money in the line of duty. I scolded the monster, but he swore up and down he only accepted money for speaking engagements. I turned my wrath upon him and the monster broke down and cried (those John Boehner tear ducts were all I could scrounge), and swore to me the money was on the up and up. And it made sense. Who wouldn’t pay tens of thousands of dollars to sit and listen to a manufactured expert lecture and proclaim? Why wouldn’t the people who had the most to lose or gain by the monster’s numbers want to pony up big ticket prices to hear him babble? Why wouldn’t an entire Spanish region chip in to make sure that he got his facts straight?

But if it wasn’t evil, if it wasn’t corrupt, it certainly smelled of it. As his body parts had when I’d first assembled them. When the rabble got wind of the monster’s money-grubbing ways, they were incensed. I did what I always do in that situation—I ignored them. They revere me. I had nothing to fear. Sure, he was my monster, I’d loosed him on the world, but surely I wasn’t responsible for the appearance of impropriety he’d created. No one questions my integrity. NO ONE! Parkenstein is incorruptible and completely objective, like an NBA official.

And then the rabble surrounded my house. They had come for the monster. They wanted his head on a platter and his gigantic ass in a sling. I fought them off as best I could, but I knew that for the first time in my life, I was not the most powerful man in the world. And I knew that when the rabble, the scum, the ungrateful, number-munching cretins I had given my life to, for whom I had suffered endless nights of insobriety and gluttony, found out that I wasn’t the perfect, incorruptible, infallible God they’d believed me to be that I was doomed.

I should have given the ugly mob my monster. Instead, I defended him. It was foolish. But I loved him, I’d created him, I’d made him and he was Me, as surely as if I’d given birth to him, which would have hurt like a bastard. And with his actions, with his calculated acceptance of money, money he would never ever have been granted were it not for my imprimatur, he knocked me from my heavenly throne and I rejoined the rabble. My creation had ruined me.

Yes, I’m still here. I’m not the God I was, I have fewer and fewer Believers, only a sad collection of sycophantic Followers. But Parkenstein! still lives! And I have other monsters of my making roaming the Earth, assigning Numbers in my name, and I shall make my way to new worlds to conquer—the Far East!  My minions and I will one day again ascend to the Heavens, wait and see, my friend. Wait and see…

R.I.P
And with that, dearest Sister, Parkenstein died. He lay sprawled on the newly wet pavement. It had begun to rain, and the air, for a brief moment, the moment I like to believe that his soul left that cetacean body, had the smell of Brettanomyces, a fitting tribute to Parkenstein’s end.

But, dearest Sister, his monsters still roam the Earth. For now. With his Life extinguished, how much longer can his creations live? Only so long as the foolish rabble continue to heed those most horrible of Parkenstein’s creations—the Numbers!

THE END, or is it?


Monday, January 2, 2012

PARKENSTEIN! Part the Second




Monkton, MD, 22 October 20__

My Dearest Sister,

Parkenstein had been the most powerful critic in his field, feared as a man fears his God, his every proclamation a Judgment Day on a 100 Point Scale, his commandments followed assiduously if not asininely. Thou shalt not filter, nor fine, nor covet thy neighbor’s bunghole. Thou shalt not worship false Gods, Tanzers and BurgHounds of Hell, for their palates are the spawn of Satan, and that spawn is slightly salty, with a creamy texture, and tastes of asparagus and hedonistic DNA. Thou shalt not question my scores, for they are the Word and are Blessed, and are not subject to your mortal and weaker tastes. Parkenstein, now washed up on the shores of Monkton, found his commandments no longer relevant or obeyed, his power vanished, his name, once spoken in reverent whispers, now spoken with contempt and the insertion of noises that emulate the flatulence of a Shanken, which is Almighty Flatulence. But I shall let Parkenstein tell his own story.

My Creation, my monster, if you will [Parkenstein said to me], for he was at once beautiful and horrible to behold, like Nancy Grace only less manly, lay on the table awaiting life. He was a blob, a meaningless mound of fat and muscle and more fat, and he would be worthless until I bestowed upon him life and power. And when I gave him life, everyone would have to concede my infinite power and infallibility. Even blobbers, who are scum, the living excrement of Poodles.

I gave him life as a mother gives life. I suckled him at my own breast. My man-tits were fully developed, often admired and jealously envied, and when I placed one on the monster’s lips, he awoke! He had tasted the milk of my genius and it had given him life. It had been wise to give him a Suckling brain, for he took to it instantly. The monster arose, stared at me with the mouth-breathing gaze of an imbecile I would come to know well, and said his first words, “What’s it worth to you?”

Yet most of the monster’s speech was made up of grunts and snorts and slurping sounds. I had succeeded beyond my wildest dreams—he already spoke like a critic. Now my job would be to give the monster the tools it would take for him to function as my surrogate so that I could transfer my power unto him. One day I would unleash him on the world and his bequeathed power would make him a man, make him a god, and I would be the god-maker! I was crazy with lust, with a lust for omnipotence and power. I felt indomitable, I felt indestructible, I felt immortal. Parkenstein! I destroyed and created at will. My words, my numbers, were as if written in stone and carried down from the mountaintop by brave knights and their blithering idiot Squires (and his bulletin board). I was at the pinnacle of my profession, and yet I needed more. I needed immortality, and I knew it was not just one, but a procession of monsters I needed to create, a roving band of nonhuman Parkenstein robots who would not be me, but would carry my authority, would be my army of ventriloquist dummies, their opinions voiced as if they were their own. My first monster was just the beginning, I understood in that instant of creation, and one day I would have a retinue of monsters with borrowed brains who were mere impersonations of real humans, and the better for it. Real humans would never follow me.

Parkenstein Losing Face
I see now that my hubris blinded me, and was my downfall. I thought I could pass along my own success and power to creatures of my own making, as one might pass along goobers at a baseball game and in return pass back the money for them, for my monsters were clearly nuts and I certainly ended up with all the money. It was a horrible blunder, and one that has left me in the pathetic state you see me in now. I had created this monster and one day he would destroy me, just as modern man has declared God is dead and destroyed Him. But that was in the future then, as were the other horrible monsters I would create, and that moment I gave birth to the monster and decided to ship him to Spain I remember as a glorious and wondrous achievement. I wonder now how I could have been so stupid.

Could I have foreseen that my own creation, my monster, would want to ruin me? It was the ancient story of Oedipus, only I was both Mother and Father to the monster. He wanted to sleep with me and kill me both, which is how I felt about Alice Feiring. I’d created the script for my own snuff film where I was the star and the victim. Yet I believed I was doing good unleashing the monster on Spain, allowing him to roam the Spanish countryside dispensing my wisdom and my authority and my points. Perhaps my first clue to his hatred of me should have been how profligate he was with my points, how he handed them out like pedophiles hand out promises of puppies. Everything was a 96 to this Sucklingized zombie, the stupidest Mencia and the most insipid Albarino. At first I found it cute, as gods find the behavior of mere mortals entertaining, but then my points, my scale that I had spent decades perfecting, became a laughingstock in the monster’s hands. People saw the monster’s byline, his byline validated by my power and authority, and they began to laugh! To laugh! At me. At Parkenstein! Those meaningless numbers had actually become meaningless in the monster’s hands—something so many had tried to achieve with their own overblown scores and hollow, pathetic defenses of them, yet somehow only my loathsome Spanish dummy had succeeded in making an actual mockery of what had always been mockery. The monster had exposed my scale for what it was--yet another joke God has played on Man. I confess, now I find that joke mordantly funny.

And yet I loved my monster, his jowls reminded me of my beloved bulldog, so I didn’t do anything to stop him. He was my Creation, his existence without me as worthless as Republican rhetoric, and I was blind to the damage he was doing to me. And so I headed recklessly toward my downfall.


To be continued…