Friday, July 27, 2012

My Poodle Nomination--A Post Less Funny Than Usual

I briefly posted this about a week ago, but then decided that it would be better posted after voting for the Wine Blog Awards had ended. None of it matters.

So HoseMaster of Wine has been nominated in the Best Writing on a Wine Blog category for a Wine Blog Award. Honestly, I’m surprised. I have about as much chance of winning as Wile E. Coyote, but, nevertheless, it’s interesting.

What I do here is something of a high-wire act. It was always my intention to bring some laughter and satire to the wine business. You can all be the judge of whether or not I’ve succeeded. Poking pompous people in the eye is a time-honored tradition of satire, and they don’t tend to like it. I do try to choose my targets carefully. It wasn’t always so. In my early days I occasionally picked on some poor souls who were writing wine blogs with very little, or no, appreciable talent. Many of them are still blogging. I’m sure their mothers are proud. And countless others have joined them. It’s a very large recessive gene pool. I set out to just have fun with the whole damned wine business. I have many admirers but far more detractors. I think writing HoseMaster of Wine has actually devalued my status in the business. Telling the truth has a way of doing that. Which says more about the business than it does about my talent, or glaring lack thereof.  

My problems with the Wine Blog Awards are many. I think, first and foremost, that the nomination process is fatally flawed. I don’t have a problem with how many genuinely worthless blogs were nominated in the first round, most, one would assume, self-nominated or nominated by family and friends. That’s the judges’ problem. But it’s discouraging to me that many of the best wine blogs out there never even made it to the first round. How is winning a Wine Blog Award really meaningful if Steve Heimoff, Tom Wark (he may have recused himself, I don’t know), Dr. Vino, Samantha Sans Dosage, not to mention Jon BonnĂ© and Eric Asimov and Charlie Olken (we can argue whether genuine pros should be included, but they are technically eligible) aren’t included? It’s like winning an Oscar against the cast of “John Carter.” I know that none of them care that they weren’t nominated. They shouldn’t care, their talents and voices speak wonderfully for themselves. Don’t get me wrong, I am genuinely honored to be listed on the same page as Randall Grahm, and if I lose by one vote it’s because I voted for him. But the absence of many of the genuinely talented people who slog away for free and actually contribute to the never-ending conversation about wine speaks volumes about the process.

I will say, though, that I’m happy that three of the blogs in my category practice comedy. Randall, when the mood strikes, is a brilliant comic writer. And whoever it is that writes Intoxicology Report, Chris Kassel, has a very funny style, a mind and a comic sensibility that runs roughshod and merrily over everything and everyone in his inebriated path. He’s a bit unfocused, but there’s great fun in his meanderings. He has style and voice. And isn’t wine writing supposed to be like wine itself—full of pleasure and surprise and joy? I think the best wine writing is. Otherwise, as I often point out, it’s just typing.

Awards are for the group presenting them, not the nominees. Like funerals. There are six corpses in my category, vote for the one that you think will fill more pews at the service. The Wine Blog Awards serve to promote the folks giving them, give them some kind of authority and power that they never earned or deserved. Tom Wark began them, marketing dude that he is, and then sold the rights to them. That’s all fine and good, the great American way, but they are hardly awards given by your peers or the public. It ends up being like any other sort of election—who can garner the most votes on FaceBook, who can beg the most effectively on his blog, who can relentlessly Tweet and reTweet about his nomination and who has the most Followers. It’s running for Class President in the fourth grade. It’s childish and silly and undignified. I don’t know about you, but I find Follower a demeaning word. I’d rather have Leaders vote for me. Or maybe three Leaders, which is a double magnum.

It takes an enormous amount of creative energy for me to write this foolishness twice a week and care enough about it to try and make it good. Like every blogger I can think of, I feel unappreciated. Yet being nominated for a Wine Blog Award feels empty. I know that other nominees are honored, and some have written unashamedly asking people to vote for them, as though winning will in any way improve their lives or be a genuine accomplishment. Maybe I’m alone in feeling this. Wouldn’t be the first time. I never started this idiotic blog to be famous or to change the world or to share my journey as I discover the way to end a wine career. I started it to make folks laugh, and I started it to burst a few of the hot air balloons that overpopulate our industry. I’m not crazy or stupid, I know I’ve done very little of either. But I enjoy my failure. One of the secrets in life.

Would I like to win? Sure, who doesn’t like to win? I can always brag that I beat Randall Grahm like a cave-diggin’ Chinese coolie. Definitely some joy in that. I didn't nominate my own blog. John Cesano confessed that he did, and I'm flattered he would go to the trouble. We're not even related. And to the judges who put me in the final mix, well, thanks. You've made a lot of wine bloggers very unhappy.

Competitions of this sort are odious. I was once at a la-dee-dah  tasting of Chateau Margaux conducted by the winemaker, Paul Pontallier. Someone in the audience asked him to compare his 1990 Margaux to the 1990 Latour. “I don’t make my wine to compare to Latour,” he said quietly, “I make Chateau Margaux.”

I don’t write to compare to Randall Grahm or Alder Yarrow or some Wild Walla Walla Woman, I write HoseMaster of Wine. A Wine Blog Award will never explain why.

We now return to our regularly scheduled garbage.


Mockingbird said...

As stated before:

"Oh, the humility"


Samantha Dugan said...

Ron My Love,
I absolutely understand and think this post only proves why you should in fact win...your talent. I started reading this blog because it was poking fun at our industry, and doing it brilliantly, but stayed for the joy of reading something beautifully written, funny or not. You never fail me. I, like you, don't care about those awards but I did in fact toss my cursor in the ring and I know I backed the right horse, award or not. I love you.

Thomas said...

Three leaders makes a double magnum, or a magnum opus!

I hope you lose...and win.

Dean Tudor said...

Ron, your blog is perhaps the most socially useful wine blog on the Internet...

"Don't be modest, don't be shy,
accept it gracefully before you die."

Oenophilosopher said...

You never fail, you just have victories of lesser degrees.

Kathy said...

I vote for Danny Boyle to direct the Hosemaster movie. Ironic, complex...beautiful (Telegraph).

Kathy said...

And funny.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

To Those Who Left Comments,

It's weird to be nominated for an award and both want to win and not to win. Two of the other blogs nominated, I think, are written by very talented writers--not that they give a solitary crap what I think. I won't mind losing to either of them.
Winning is always fun, but when at least two of the people in your category launch aggressive social media campaigns to win, it seems sad. They want it so much more. And they're not the talented ones, in my view. I'll be sorry to lose to either of them.
The little community of miscreants that has graced me with their presence here has been my reward for all this foolishness, aside from the satisfaction of the writing itself. In that regard, I've already won.

Mockingbird said...


Surely, you understand the concept of visual credibility. Poodle Awards (even nominations) proudly flaunted in the form of a "badge" in the sidebar are a means to that end.
Bloggers want the vis cred because they want to feel important. That, or they still have the delusion that they will make six figures with their blog (or that Heimoff will get fired because of that petition with 38 signatures) and they will swoop in and scoop up that sweet gig....

Ron Washam, HMW said...


This is an incredibly tiny and utterly meaningless world we play in here. Try to keep some perspective. Putting the Poodle badge on my blog doesn't mean a thing. I like the irony of it, and I think it's funny. I do it with pride and laughter and because I like to screw with the way my blog looks now and then just because I have way too much time on my hands.

Whether I display the badge or not won't change the delusions of wine bloggers. I not so vain as to think my actions have any power in the blog world, or any other world for that matter.

But thanks for caring.

Mockingbird said...


I was being sarcastic, not preachy.
Consider my moniker....

1winedoody said...

I sense a conspiracy here. The judges included you in the hopes that winning the award would defang your coiled-to-strike commentary, perhaps? Ah, but if they only read you regularly they'd realize that the angel and demon on your opposite shoulders would only battle over this for about 0.042 seconds, with the red devil winning handily and guiding your acerbic typing fingers with renewed glee, whether you won or not.

I also nominated you and am pulling for a victory now, just so we can get your version of an acceptance speech!

Peace, love & Marsha Brady!

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Hey Joe,

Thank you for nominating me, I guess. And funny you should mention an acceptance speech--well, maybe not funny, more like ironic. Or maybe not ironic, more like what a coincidence. Oh, I don't know, it's those damned things on my shoulder. Anyway, I was going to write my acceptance speech as a post, but it turned into this self-effacing, phony post. But definitely look for the HoseMaster's acceptance speech, coming soon.

I'm genuinely grateful you nominated me, Joe. Thanks. Gives me even more reason to go after you.

1WineDoody said...

Happy to provide some additional fodder.

Not that you needed it...

John Cesano said...

Hi Ron, it is true, I nominated you because you are my favorite online writer in the industry.

Reading his work, I should have known Joe was possessed of similarly questionable judgement.

Way back, another of your fans, Amy, sent me a review copy of Grahm's Been Doon So Long. Favorite wine literature. Liking Grahm's satire predisposes me to liking your satire as well.

Both you and Grahm are remarkably talented; I'm glad you two share a category.

As a bonus, your nomination will provide WBC attendees a worthwhile discussion topic.



Ron Washam, HMW said...


I appreciate the kind words. Most years I'm nominated for Poodles because folks find it ironic rather than that they admire my foolishness. That some relatively distinguished judges chose to put me in the final six is, admittedly, flattering. And being in the same writing category with Randall is even more so.

I suspect I won't be much of a topic at WBC. They'll be too busy talking about themselves.

1winedoody said...

John, the fact that you wouldn't immediately question my judgement makes your judgement immediately questionable. And I think puts us into some sort of post-modern quantum judgement infinite recursiveness.

Marcia Macomber said...

I'm thankful you don't use as many footnotes as Mr. Grahm....

Poodles Away!

Unknown said...

Thanks for the kind words. I am admittedly unfocused; see, I thought it might disguise the fact that not only do I know nothing about wine, I don't even like it that much.

My focus in the column is not so much the product, but how it interacts with my life, your life and the state of the immediate universe. The digressions are the point, actually.

Thanks again, Salud. Love your stuff.

Chris Kassel

Ron Washam, HMW said...


Hey, thanks for showing up at my humble blog! I'm a big fan of yours and thought you truly deserved Best New Wine Blog as well as Best Writing on a Wine Blog--though all the Poodle awards are essentially like life itself, without meaning.

You don't need my praise, to be sure. You possess a brilliant comic sensibility that I hope everyone who reads HoseMaster also discovers. All eleven of them.

Thanks, Chris. That you love my stuff makes me genuinely proud.