Monday, November 30, 2015

The SOMM Old Shit


Hair Kruth
SOMM looks to become yet another Hollywood franchise, along the lines of Star Wars, James Bond and Gidget. The original film, SOMM, was actually the last in the Francis the Talking Mule series, with nothing but jackasses mouthing off. SOMM: Into the Bottle, the second in the SOMM series, answers the timeless question, “If you won’t stop the fucking car, where do I piss?” And just like that situation, the sweet relief comes when the film is over.

The writer/director of the SOMM series, Jason Wise, recently released a list of the next several films he’s planning in the SOMM series. He also announced that he has signed the most important actor in the films to a long term contract. That actor, Geoff Kruth’s hair, was not available for comment.

SOMM: Death to the Salesmen

In SOMM: Death to the Salesmen, Wise focuses on the relationship between sommeliers and the people who sell them wine. Fresh from achieving the Master Sommelier credential, these young somms now realize their power over ordinary wine salespeople. Wise masterfully builds the suspense so that we wonder, along with the salespeople, whether or not the somms will ever return a phone call, treat them with some respect, or even acknowledge their existence. “Calling on most sommeliers,” one saleswoman remarks, “is like having unprotected sex with Charlie Sheen—you expect to get screwed, and then the cocktail is expensive.” In another scene, we watch while Geoff Kruth’s hair keeps a salesman waiting for two hours. His hair always has a nice part.

SOMM: Schwindler’s List

Jason Wise spent months in camouflage gear capturing footage of a phenomenon rarely seen by humans, Master Sommeliers working the floor! The film’s title refers to their uncanny ability to squeeze restaurant clients for money. In a memorable scene, an unwitting guest asks the sommelier if there’s a corkage fee for the wine he’s brought in for his 50th wedding anniversary. He’s told the corkage fee is $150. “To open a bottle of wine?” the man asks, obviously astounded and angry. “No,” the somm says (Geoff Kruth’s hair, in a wonderful performance), “it’s ten bucks to open it. The other $140 is for product.” Wise also shows how restaurant wine prices are decided. “We take the price we paid for the bottle and multiply it by how many years it took me to pass the Master Sommelier exams—so, six. That seems fair.” There’s also a look at how by-the-glass programs work. “It’s pretty simple,” our sommelier tells us, “we serve you obscure wines that an average person doesn’t know, which disguises the price, then we pour a fifth of the bottle, and charge for that glass what the bottle cost to begin with. You know, really, we’re just trying to make movie theater concessions look cheap.” Soon you’ll see why every restaurant wine list is a Schwindler’s List.

SOMM: Thing About Mary

A lighthearted and occasionally crude look at the wine business. Theatergoers won’t soon forget what ends up in Geoff Kruth’s hair. A little Ch√Ęteauneuf-du-Spunk.

SOMM: Like It Hot

A couple of sommeliers inadvertently witness a crime at Jackson Family Estates, yet another Banke robbery, and decide to dress as women in order to avoid being hired in the business. Hilarity ensues when the sommeliers go on a wine junket to Portugal in the hot summer and end up with Dry Sack. Geoff Kruth’s hair provides comic relief as the love interest for a muskrat.

SOMM: Namblaists

A strange tale of sommeliers who sleepwalk and fondle boys. Jared Fogle stars. Sponsored by Subway—Eat Freshmen!

SOMM: Breros

A fascinating inside look at the immigrant work force that actually harvests the grapes in California. While our intrepid band of Master Sommeliers travel the world drinking and debauching on junkets, and basking in the admiration of wine lovers, Juan and his crew spend harvest working long hours in the vineyard performing back-breaking work while looking forward to being scorned by the people of wine country. It’s heroes and zeroes—yeah, you decide.

SOMM: Left Behind

Jason Wise’s vision of a world without sommeliers. One morning, Geoff Kruth’s hair awakens to discover that every sommelier in the world has suddenly vanished in the long-predicted Sommelier Rapture. Except him. Kruth’s hair realizes that now he is the only sommelier on the planet—so, in his mind, nothing has changed, really. Wise poses the question, in a world without sommeliers, who will make wine seem unapproachable? Can wine survive without the people who spend their lives studying its trivia? Will ordinary people ever be able to remove a cork from a bottle and make it seem an act of courage? SOMM: Left Behind is a frightening look at a world where sommeliers have vanished. It will remind you of your last visit to French Laundry. Yes, it’s that scary.

SOMM: Goddame Losers

Wise tells the stories of the men and women who fail to pass the Master Sommelier exam. These Goddame Losers (their God is Fred Dame MS) have spent thousands of dollars and wrecked their personal lives in a vain attempt to become a Master Sommelier. Without the MS after their names, these poor souls must learn to live as mere mortals, holding down actual jobs and having healthy relationships. Losers. Imagine. They could be working for Southern Wine and Spirits, or Jackson Family Estates, where they’d earn the undying respect of salesmen. It just doesn’t seem fair. But we can't all be Geoff Kruth's hair. The Goddame Losers, it turns out, can't handle the Kruth!

45 comments:

Daniel said...

Good Morning Hose,
I'm not sure which movie I'm more excited about, though I was hoping that the much rumored musical "Somm 2: Electric Boogaloo" would make the list.
thanks for starting off my week on a nice and weird note. perfect for the holiday season!
d

Unknown said...

Ron:
I can't wait to see "Somm Wear Over the Rainbow" in which Geoff Kruth's hair is found hiding behind a curtain......
Happy Cyber Monday!
George

Bryan Scott said...

That question about stopping the car ... the answer is "Out the window," right?

Carl LaFong said...

The sequel to a Sandra Bullock movie: " Somm Speed 2" where the hero pleads "Stop the bus and let my brother Jack off!"

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Daniel,
Weird is what I was going for, I think. I made the mistake of watching an episode of "Uncorked" and that inspired me to have some fun with Kruth and the SOMMinex crowd. In Hollywood, an actor like Kruth (and he certainly isn't compelling on screen) would be known as "The Hair." Think Michael Landon. So I just started with that. And then I knew my common taters would find the "SOMM" movie tie-ins irresistible.

Stay tuned.

George,
There you go. And your little dog, too!

Bryan,
Ever hear of blowback? You will.

Carl,
Nice.

Ziggy said...

Hose, I showed this blog entry to my Housekeeper, who is also a part time Somm. She didn't think it was funny so I fired her. Interestingly she was very good opening screw cap bottles.

Tom In Real Life said...

I work with a guy who's going for his Level II certificate. Every Monday I forward him a link to your blog. Every Tuesday I get to (endlessly) hear him defend himself. It makes me smile. :-)

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Ziggy,
Your Housekeeper had impeccable comic taste. And, so you know, most medicine now comes with SOMM-proof caps. Wine always has.

Tom,
Give him my regards. It won't be long before there will be more Certified Sommeliers than there are restaurants. If there aren't already.

Certified Sommelier always sounds to me like Certified Angus, but bullshit is bullshit.

Bryan Scott said...

Hosemaster-
I am not a man of science, but back when travelers could pay their Bay Bridge tolls with quarters the phenomenon you refer to was avoided by having several up-wind windows wide open. This was before the Vinturi was introduced, though, so the physics of the experience may have changed. This is based on personal experience. That I read about. Really, I read about it.

Jim Caudill said...

I was hoping for a little preview of "Another SOMM Bites The Dust" but I'll just wait for it On Demand, which seems appropriate since supply and no demand is so much a part of this world....

Amy said...

As an aside, I taught a class last week where one of the attendees said, "I don't even understand this and I'm a level one Sommelier." I wasn't quite sure how to respond because the distribution curve on Somm "levels" and what's required at each level is unclear to me. And when does Tom Cruise jump on the couch?

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Bryan,
Into the Bottle would have been easier, though far less dramatic. Or scientific. Thanks for the physics lesson.

Jim,
The world needs more sommeliers like it needs more accordion players. Master Squeezeboxers.

Amy,
The response is, "You don't understand this BECAUSE you're a level one somm." By the way, was it even a wine class you were teaching? I was thinking it might have been yoga.

Cruise is more likely to jump on Geoff Kruth's hair.

Joe Roberts said...

"The original film, SOMM, was actually the last in the Francis the Talking Mule series"


HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Aaron said...

@Tom
Hahaha, that's awesome. Must be a ton of fun :)

@Ron
Excuse me, I'm not common tater. I'm a yam! :P

And seriously, the first couple I actually almost thought they were going to be for real. Which just tells you how messed up the world is when I can believe that they are doing SOMM sequels.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Yes, Aaron, like Popeye, "I yam what I yam..."

Unknown said...

I would think Somm Boogie Nights would be a blast when somebody whips out a 14" corkscrew...

David Vergari said...

SOMM Thing in the (H)air...when Geoff Kruth ventures into the recording studio.

Mel Knox said...

Did anybody see the movie where the XMen disguise themselves as somms?? It's called Somm 'N X

Ron Washam, HMW said...

David,
Ah, yes, a "Magic Christian" reference, no? Ringo Starr and Peter Sellers, with "Something in the Air" as a theme song for people wading around in shit after money. Damn, David, that's perfect! You win.

Mel,
Bah-dum-bum. Nice! I knew this stupid thing would catch on. Thanks.

Aaron said...

Ha! I think you'd be great to do a guest post on Academic Wino (http://www.academicwino.com/2015/11/guest-writers.html/). I'm sure you'd have some fascinating things to post to her audience about wine, and the wine industry.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Aaron,
I don't care is she is pregnant, I don't write for free for anyone but myself. What worries me is bloggers reproducing. Is that even legal?

Samantha Dugan said...

Ron My Love,
What's with you guys hating on a film you admit you haven't seen? Steve posted something a week or two ago about the new SOMM movie and the thing that stood out to me was this comment, "Haven't seen it. Won't see it, just trying to understand the phenomenon"....well if you won't see it you really aren't trying to understand anything now are your Steve? You do blind book reviews so I get it but I just can't figure out why this film/these films have been so polarizing for so many folks.

I saw SOMM, and I liked it although it did not change in any way, shape, or form the way I view somms. If you went in thinking somms shit rainbow colored unicorn seeds you went out feeling the same. If you thought them big douchey dicksneezes, you still did after seeing it and as for the folks like me, well I thought it interesting to see a side of the business, much like winemaking, is just another side of this crazy wine world that I want NO part of. I know you were/are just poking fun Love. Just chiming in here because I don't comment over on Steve anymore.

I like Jason, he's a cool guy that is into wine in a way I find very refreshing, he isn't letting himself get sucked into this camp or that one and fuck all if that isn't a rarity now a day?! He even broke my bawls about grower Champagne a little the last time, "Come on, there is some really great wine being made by the big houses too"...not sure I agree per se but I liked that he wasn't swallowing the hipster Kool Aid as it were.

I did have to Google Geoff Kruth, never heard of him and the first thing I thought of, "Why do they have a picture of Tyler Florance here?" but I think it showed me that I clearly have NOT my finger on the pulse of that bit of our business...so maybe Jason should consider some of these films.

As far as wine bloggers reproducing, I sort of thought wine blogging, in of itself created its own kind of sexual confusion capsules, you know, like the ones they are using in Champagne....or high school.
xoxoxox
I love you!

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,
I'm not hatin' on a film I haven't seen. I'm hatin' on a strange franchise that begins with the annoying shorthand, SOMM. I wouldn't go to see a film about sommeliers any more than a lawyer wants to watch Law and Order, or a doctor wants to watch Grey's Anatomy. That the second film is a love poem to wine couldn't be more boring to me. Does it say anything at all new about wine? I don't know, but I'm guessing not. Films like that remind me of the death montages at award shows. That it exaggerates wine's importance is a given. From there, it can only get cute and remorselessly simple. I don't know Jason Wise, he's a nice man you tell me, and you're no fool, so I'll grant him that.

I don't see the films as polarizing, My Love. I see them as playing to their audience. Which isn't me, or anyone that really loves wine. It's really a film, I guess, about how stupid wine lovers can be, about how they'll sacrifice what's important about life in order to be certified an idiot. So I make fun. It's what I do. That others agree, and others disagree, is actually great for the SOMM series. Jason knows better than anyone else--in Hollywood, any buzz is good buzz.

You're right about everything you say here, Gorgeous. I appreciate the other side of the coin, and you're always articulate and funny. You didn't rush out to see SOMM 2 either. The subject, at its core, isn't at all compelling. Wine is compelling, but it's compelling to all the senses. Movies appeal to one sense, vision, and that might be the least compelling sense when it comes to wine. SOMM isn't really a phenomenon. I suspect it didn't make a dime, and wasn't widely viewed. Like most films.

Lastly, when it comes down to it, I'm opposed to the glorification of sommeliers, and fatuous certifications. SOMM, really, is about addiction, it seems, and emotional stupidity. But when I hear people in awe of what those clowns do to get an MS, I'm rather depressed and disappointed. And that's what I hear, all the time--people amazed at those who pass. It may be a hard test, but what it proves is the basic foolishness and shallowness of humans. I really wish that's what everyday folks learned from it.

November 30, 2015 at 9:06 PM
Delete

Ron Washam, HMW said...

I forgot the most important point!

Samantha, I love you!

Samantha Dugan said...

Ron,
I love that you brought up award shows, talk about the worshiping of false deities. I'd sooner shave my pubic hair with a cheese grater than watch some dripping with insincerity, bloated and self congratulatory shit like that. Watching a bunch of rich people hand each other gold statues for playing make believe? I think we should be pointing the finger at that kind of glorification, (as it is on a massive and dangerous scale...how many people know who the Kargashians are and have no idea who Bernie Sanders, Ben Carson, Bill Nye or Neil de Grasse Tyson are?! But they sure as shit know who The Donald is) because it can, and has, done some real damage. A movie about a nerd herd of wine people, (and between you and I, I'm not sure that kind of studying doesn't in fact ruin wine, or the passion for, for many of them but I don't know them, haven't spoken to or had them select wines for me as of yet...so I reserve my judgment until I have) that as you point out probably didn't make much money, so those "everyday folks" probably didn't see it anyway.

Look, like all things wine it is subjective and those of us that love it, (wait does that exclude me because I liked the film? You did say it wasn't for people that really love wine) it can be fun to see a movie that involves this thing, this taste of place, this memory, this expression of a vintage that has drawn us and drives us to come back over and over again. But then again, maybe I'm just stoopidly in love and dreamy eyed. This stuff still moves me, hearing a cork pop, seeing the liquid fall upon itself in a glass, the way my mouth begins to water and my mind starts revving up in that snip of time I swirl the glass and watch the wine surf along the side. The anticipation, exploration and eventual submission of myself to that incredible puddle of expression. Well I'm sure it's just me being foolish but I'd rather be a fool in love than, well rather than most things.

Bob Henry said...

"... You know, really, we’re just trying to make movie theater concessions look cheap."

With luxury move theaters now offering wines-by-the-glass to patrons while comfortably ensconced in their fine Corinthian leather Barcalounger recliner seats, the concession mark-up for this plonk most be fearsome.

@Unknown [a.k.a. Tish?]:

You may be unknowingly onto something: "SOMM Wear" -- taking a page out of the playbook of http://www.chefwear.com/

No SOMM would be complete without being "accessorized" with a Tastevin, silk robe, and matching cap:

http://www.tastevin-bourgogne.com/en/index.php?page=61

Unknown said...

I just saw the trailer for "SOMM: The Whizzer of Odds," It's about a Somm named Dorothy who finds himself in San Francisco. "This ain't Kansas anymore" he tells himself repeatedly. In California he's allowed to assemble a list full of unusual, and often flawed, wines which are natural and frequently unfiltered. "You have to filter these yourself," Dorothy tells guests at the restaurant. (This is why the title for this film was chosen.) One of the cute musical pieces is sung while he's trying on uniforms at an SF haberdashery. It's "Somm Wear Over the Winebow."

ANONYMOUS I

Mark Cochard said...

Ron, https://sommslist.com/home.php
You should have fun with this site.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,
I deal in satire, which demands a black and white view of a subject. I'm sure SOMM is 90 minutes of thrill, but I don't care. Any time it comes up in a conversation that I was a sommelier in a previous life, I'm asked about SOMM. Did I see it? What did I think? While it may have been an entertaining film, my own feeling is that it would make me cringe to watch it. Truthfully, it's a film of its time. Ten years ago, it couldn't have been made, or sold to a film distributor. There's a current fascination with becoming a sommelier, one that didn't exist when I did the job. I guess that's good. But achieving Master Sommelier is a different thing. It's a fatuous and silly certification, and the people who are capitalizing on it are not my favorite people in the wine biz. So, hell, I go after them. Gives me joy.

You and I share a love of wine. Not a love of wine as test material. People who have tried nine (!) times to pass the MS exam (like the gentleman in the wheelchair on "Uncorked") seem to be after something else. Not sure what, but it's rather sad. Glorifying such a humiliating and ultimately useless career path strikes me as satire worthy. Obviously.

Everything about wine is subjective. You liked the film because you like Jason, I suspect. Which is cool. I don't know him, and I'm sure, at this point, he's not very fond of me. So be it. There's no correlation between liking SOMM and loving wine, as you know. But as a recovering somm, I can tell you, without having watched it, that it just makes me sad.

Samantha Dugan said...

Ron My Love,

No, I liked the film for the reasons I mentioned earlier. Got to know Jason a little better after seeing it so it was just a nice aside that I happen to like him. Now reading the last response I think I can see where you and I are getting tangled. I didn't see the film as glorifying those guys, not in the least. I think that was what I was trying to get across by saying you got what you came in with from the film. If you went into it thinking those cats are crazy, cool, assholes, the film didn't change the way you felt. Know what I mean? So if you saw them as glorious to begin with then yes, it was a glorification. If you thought them asswads your feelings were confirmed by seeing the film. In fact I even heard one person say it was more of an objectification, which is what I meant by saying it was sort of polarizing for some.

I happen to agree with you about the fact that the people that do those exams are after something else, in fact I think it becomes about concurring "This Thing" and for me, well I'd much rather be seduced and render beneath wine than try and dominate or concur it, so they are speaking a whole different language to my ears. Found myself twisting my head this way and that through the film and that damned Uncorked program you made me watch, sort of like a dog or cat when they hear something and are trying to figure out what is going on. I think I just found interesting how many people loved or hated it before they even saw it, but I guess that sort of makes sense in our business.

Looks like somms are the new chefs, every young hotshot wanting to make a name for themselves, be the next big deal. Fine by me, I'll just sell wine at our little shop, be able to lock the doors at a reasonable hour with nearly no one knowing my name...and not flashcard in sight!

I know you are writing satire Love, what did you expect from me, "Great post Ron!" if anybody knows me better than that it is You!
I love you too!

Douglas Trapasso said...

I’m liking Uncorked a little more than Somm #1 (I personally know two of the six candidates) but do agree with Samantha; watching these folks treat wine like a lab rat running through a maze is ultimately depressing to me. (And will we ever see even a minute of footage of these Good People actually doing their Actual Job?) When you turn one of God’s great Creations into Jeopardy or ESPN, I am sorry, but something priceless gets lost.

This is just my prediction, and I will be happy to admit if I am wrong, but in about eight-ten years, I am guessing that the consensus within the wine world will be that this over-emphasis on the “somm” was a mistake. A well-meaning, well-intentioned mistake that pulled more folks away from wine than towards it.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,
I didn't make you watch "Uncorked," I told you I thought it was stupid and you watched it anyway. Yeah, I know, you were kidding.

Here's my bottom line, I guess. Over and over and over I hear folks complain about snotty, snooty sommeliers. Perhaps with some justification. SOMM and "Uncorked" won't help sommeliers become more humble, or even be better at hospitality, they will only make the occupation seem more important, more exalted, make sommeliers seem the ultimate wine authorities, which they most assuredly are not. Even if the film is good, and even if it's objective, it still plays into that. Nobody is making a film about a buyer for a wine shop, though you're much more interesting than anyone going for an MS. And I guess that's what bothers me. Oh, and let's not forget that both the film and the TV show are done for fame and money, not for the love of wine.

Thanks for engaging me on this subject, My Love. And great to have your Voice here, a Voice all too absent in the blog world.

I love you!

Douglas,
I'm not sure about your prediction, but you could be right. The wine biz needs subjects to debate, talk about, beat to death, whether it's Natural Wines or sommeliers. Nothing I like more than to join in on beating a subject to death.

Rew said...

Very funny and enjoyed your creativity. I had to Google the hair and hence the name:
On a recent Sunday morning in downtown Petaluma, 34-year old Geoff Kruth sits sipping a coffee and looking relaxed in a simple blue T-shirt and jeans. He has a boyishly handsome look to him, not at all what one might expect from one of the world's most highly certified wine experts - and then I threw up in my mouth.

excerpt from: Not Your Average Wine Snob http://www.bohemian.com/northbay/not-your-average-wine-snob/Content?oid=2173440

Martin said...

Got another for you.

SOMM: Enter The Flagon.
The producers look to expand the franchise’s appeal by taking it to Asia. Our hero Kruth adds an MK, master of karate to his MS and impresses Chinese millionaire restaurant customers with his ability to ‘sabre’ Champagne bottles using only his hand. He sneers at them for their inability to properly pronounce Lafite or Latour but the Chinese have the last laugh when gangsters make perfect toupee copies of Kruth’s hair and flood the market with fake Master Somms.

Martin Moran MW

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Rew,
Cheers, man! I think I'm just jealous I can't ever be The Hair.

Martin,
Yes, an international franchise! Why didn't I think of that? Though I am working on SOMM: The Musical! Starts with The Hair singing, "The SOMM'll come out, Tomorrow!" It gets worse from there.

Thomas said...

Sam::

You certainly know how to make me smile, which I did after reading this: "how many people know who the Kardashians are and have no idea who Bernie Sanders, Ben Carson, Bill Nye or Neil de Grasse Tyson are?!"

Whether TV or theater-bound, if it claims to be a reality show count me out. Reality has become the biggest hoax in entertainment, made for those who can't come up with their own imaginations.

As for sommeliers, et al: they are separated by a thin hair from collectors. Obsession has little to do with love.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Thomas,
Sure, show up and talk to Samantha. I get it.

Reality shows are less about lack of imagination, and more about that you don't have to pay the "actors." Very easy to produce and edit, and people love to watch other people act foolishly, as we love to watch the baboons at the zoo.

Baboon Somms! Now we're talkin'!

Thomas said...

Those are somm baboons you have there!

I was talkin' to Sam, not you ...

Samantha Dugan said...

Thomas,
I confess that the genre doesn't bother me, and I saw that Uncorked thing much like I see the Housewives of Whateverthefuck, I can be both captivated and repulsed at the same time...and I wouldn't want to be like any of them.

Thanks for the compliment on my baboons, hate to confess though, they aren't certified.
Miss you mister.

Thomas said...

Not certified!

I am sommwhat despondent.

Samantha Dugan said...

Thomas,
But I am full of as much shit as a biodynamic Mondeuse vineyard in Napa...if that helps.

Douglas Trapasso said...

You had me at "Mondeuse", Samantha.

Thomas said...

Mondeuse, madame Sam! You have made me even more sommber than I was yesterday.

Miss U2. How's that for appspeak?

Jese Ramos said...

Hello Mr.Washam,

I am in a wheelchair as well and I am disappointed that you would label someone as you did "People who have tried nine (!) times to pass the MS exam (like the gentleman in the wheelchair on "Uncorked". I am not sure if you know the person in the wheelchair has a name and it is Yannick Benjamin and he happens to be one of the most generous human beings. Where presence of people with disabilities is limited in the media it is refreshing to see someone trying to break in the wine and hospitality industry where hiring of people with disabilities is limited as well. Keep in mind that he has to do service in a wheelchair and that has never been done and where something has never been done before it is more than likely that failure will happen but the fact that he keeps coming back to it should be complimented and not discouraged. While you spend your time putting down individuals like Mr.Benjamin who are making a difference in the world perhaps you can take the time and appreciate his love for wine, hospitality, and advocacy. We will not make progress in the disabled community as long as people such as yourself continue to have labels like the "person in the wheelchair" and keep in mind the wheelchair does not define him and he is not in a wheelchair but on a wheelchair. Please realize that not everyone has an agenda for self gratification but an agenda to make a difference in the world and share their passion as Mr.Benjamin has shown and I am proud to know that there is someone out their improving the lives of so many.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Mr. Ramos,
Thank you for taking the time to write. I appreciate very much a critical letter that takes an engaging and civilized tone. Writing satire, as you know, is not about using that tone, but here, in the comments, it is appreciated.

You have a point when you criticize my use of "the gentleman in the wheelchair." I should have used his name, but, for the most part, I avoided using the names of the MS candidates in the piece. But I stand corrected, and I think you're correct, that even in comedic context, it was insensitive. I apologize.

"On a wheelchair" vs "in a wheelchair," OK. I'm not on a wheelchair, but I sit in a chair, rarely on a chair. My mother, when I misbehaved, told me to sit in the chair, not on the chair. So that was more force of habit than ignorance. But if that's more acceptable, OK.

I don't apologize for the satire I write. It's supposed to make people think, and it's supposed to make some people angry. A satirist's job, even a crappy satirist like I, is to criticize, lampoon, ridicule, roast people who have power, or aspire to power, or, in the wine biz, aspire to letters after their name. It's meant to be cruel, and it's meant to sting, but it serves a purpose. No one has to like it. That Mr. Benjamin is a thoughtful and kind and passionate man is obvious, and I'm grateful for that. As for his pursuit of an MS, well, that's what I was criticizing.

Again, thank you for writing. I sincerely appreciate your thoughtful comment.