Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Legend of Parr Bunyan--Greatest Sommelier Who Ever Lived

Now I know you’ve all heard the tall tales about Paul Bunyan, greatest woodsman to ever live, able to clear a forest the size of Montana with one great sweep of his mighty ax. But I’m guessing you’ve never heard of his half-brother, Parr Bunyan. Parr went a much different way with his life than his legendary brother. Parr became a sommelier. Well, not just any sommelier, but the Greatest Sommelier Who Ever Lived. Paul never talked about his brother much, seems he was embarrassed that Ma Bunyan had conceived Parr out of wedlock, though Ma claimed Parr wasn’t conceived with a man, but with a sex toy. “Why just talk to him,” she’d say, “and you can tell he’s mostly dildo.”

Parr had all the size of his older brother Paul, but where Paul was all massive thighs and immeasurable barrel chest, Parr was mostly head. Parr had the biggest head the world had ever seen. His head was so big, Parr had to strap three sheep to a log to use as a Q-Tip. His hat size had more “X’s” than Larry King. And to get his tastevin on over his head, he had to have a chain so long it had more links than a Lindsay Lohan sex tape. He hadn’t been born with a big head, for which Ma Bunyan constantly thanked the Lord, but once he became a sommelier, his head just never stopped growing. This can happen to ordinary sommeliers too, but not on the scale it happens to a Bunyan.

The legend of Parr Bunyan began when he passed the Master Sommelier exam, all three levels, in twenty minutes. He’d identified five wines served to him blind perfectly, down to the vintage, the producer and what time of day the wine was poured. “It’s a 2010 Trimbach Cuvee Emile that was opened 57 minutes ago by a guy who didn’t wash his hands after he urinated.” An embarrassed Larry Stone skulked from the room. Parr also wrote a thousand word essay on the subject, “The effects of Linne Calodo soil on flavor and tannin in Grenache,” that was subsequently published by the UC Davis Press and outsold their legendary soil book, “Fifty Shales of Gray.” When everything he recommended during the service part of the exam was the perfect match for the foods, causing one examiner to say, “These are the best pairs since Scarlett Johansson,” the legend of Parr Bunyan was born.

Why Parr Bunyan, the Greatest Sommelier Who Ever Lived, can tell the quality of a vintage just by sniffin’ the air. Parr strides his mighty stride, his gigantic head precariously balanced above his paunchy body, his tastevin jangling out the theme from “The Exorcist,” across San Francisco Bay, using the Golden Gate Bridge to relieve his itchy hemorrhoids, up to Napa Valley. His giant bean looming over the puny people of Napa, he inhales deeply. Trees are uprooted, trophy wives scatter willy-nilly, winery dogs are deloused, as are winery marketing departments, but Parr gets a good strong whiff. “A classic vintage,” he declares, “rivaling any I can recall, though Howell Mountain wines will take some time to come out of their shell.” On Parr’s proclamation alone, prices rise like souls ascending to Heaven, to an unseen place where no mortals will ever see them again.

From there it’s just a small step to Sonoma, a much bigger county, but no match for the size of Parr’s giant dome. One deep inhale, his head tilted slightly right to favor that nostril, the residents of the county experiencing a partial solar eclipse as Parr’s head comes between them and the sun, and Parr declares, “An excellent vintage here as well, though the alcohol levels are too high in much of Dry Creek and the Russian River and must be lowered, while the True Sonoma Coast has made wines of great distinction and balance. And, believe me, with a head like mine, you need to know balance.”

Around the globe Parr Bunyan strides, declaring the vintage in every famous wine region. Wine writers hang on his every word, winemakers dazzled by his knowledge and nose, and all of them astonished at the size of his head. There is nothing he doesn’t know about wine. He is the Greatest Sommelier Who Ever Lived.

But the Greatest Sommelier Who Ever Lived is still a man, and a lonely man. He broods. Some say that it’s the thousand wines he tastes every morning that affect his personality. Perhaps all that alcohol would affect a normal man, but it’s foolish to think it affects Parr Bunyan. Why, he can taste and spit a hundred wines in the time it takes an ordinary sommelier to pretend he knows what Nerello Mascalese is. Parr can recite the list of every known wine grape in less than five minutes to the tune of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Major General.” One lazy afternoon, Parr sequenced Jancis Robinson’s DNA. Turns out she’s nearly indistinct from Eiswein.

Perhaps, some folks believe, Parr is a sad and lonely man precisely because he knows everything about wine, and being the Greatest Sommelier Who Ever Lived. There is nothing left for him to do but try and teach the human race about wine, about the right wines, wines that are wine as God intended. But not everyone will listen to Parr Bunyan. He fears it’s the size of his melon (often mistaken for Pinot Blanc in California). He speaks at symposia, he stoops to interviews with the ignorant, he lectures wineries and winemakers—and all for naught. For although Parr Bunyan is larger than life, a living legend, a wine god among men, people still insist on drinking what they like. They nod their head during interviews, they nod off at symposia, they praise his almighty head at wineries, they acknowledge his superior knowledge and truly gigantic body cavities, but then they just keep on making wines they like, drinking wines they like, ignoring his dictum of higher acid and lower alcohol, forsaking his wisdom in favor of their clearly inferior senses encased in their pathetic pinheads. Poor Parr Bunyan—it makes him lonely and sad.

When a head that size cries, the whole county smells like Manzanilla. Vineyards are flooded and precious top soil erodes. Parr Bunyan, therefore, is not allowed to cry, and this is what makes him sad and lonely. He wants to cry for us, to purify us of our wine ignorance, but he mustn’t. Instead, he must keep on talking, keep on preaching, keep on reminding us he is the legendary Parr Bunyan, Greatest Sommelier Who Ever Lived.

It turns out, that legend thing ain’t what it used to be.


Unknown said...

That made me want to cry - but I felt I shouldn't.

Dean Tudor said...

I loved the book "50 Shales of Gray" -- what do you have against it?

Is Parr related to Old Parr, the 178 year old Scotch codger?

What happened to Old Yaller, Blue's dog...?

Inquiring minds want to know...

Thanks for the (almost) daily laughters!!!

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Ah, go ahead, ya big lug.

I didn't like "50 Shales of Gray" because, like Parr, it's full of schist.

No relation to Old Parr, who I've never even heard of. I looked him up on Wikipedia, the Hawaiian Pedophile Website, so now I get your joke. Good one! And how come the HoseMaster doesn't have a Wikipedia page? Inquiring minds want to know that too.

This stupid post was inspired by my disdain for celebrity sommeliers. But, then, I guess I have disdain for a lot of folks, which is why the well doesn't run dry.

Unknown said...

Loved the column, full of your dry wit as usual... but if you're taking shots at Rajit Parr I think it's a little unfair.. I loved his book.. and I never got the riff that he's Mr Bigshot you gotta like what I like.. he often says drink whatever floats you're boat.. for instance he gave an example of how he loves to pair someone's roast chicken with a shiraz he likes...

Thomas said...


I am certain I would have laughed along with this post, but although I know who was lampooned, I have absolutely no knowledge of the guy's activities--mainly because I've never cared enough to find out.

The jokes are wasted on me--can you send me crib notes?

Tom Hunter said...

Thomas, if you knew him I doubt you'd think it was that funny anyhow. Seems like Ron here doesn't know him to well himself.

Ron - think you're off base but hey, at least you made me visualize Scarlett Johannson

Thomas said...


Don't get me wrong. Tongue was in cheek.

I have a built-in aversion to getting to know anyone who has reached celebrity status. Been there--results not pretty.

Rogue Wino said...

Whether this actually reflects Parr, this story works as a send up of how wine people treat and think of master somms. The characteristics you describe are seen as something desirable to obtain. It's something that's always made me hesitate in pursuing that particular credential

Ron Washam, HMW said...

I'm not sure Raj Parr needs any defending, or any offending for that matter. I have never met him. Seen him, heard him, don't care. Never read his book. Won't.

When I sent this piece to Tim Atkin, because he asked to see it, Tim didn't want it for his blog because, in his words, nobody in his world knows who Raj Parr is. I told Tim that it wasn't about Raj Parr, it's about Parr Bunyan. Assign Parr Bunyan any identity you want, it's not the point. If, Tom Hunter, I want to insult Raj Parr, I'll just use his name. You know me well enough to know that. I certainly used some of Raj Parr's endless and tiresome wine proclamations, those morsels of wisdom he tosses to us mere mortals, but that was just for comic effect.

Rogue Wino, God bless her, gets the idea.

I wanted, for some strange reason only my HoseMaster brain understands, to write a Tall Tale that had to do with wine. I don't think I succeeded at what I set out to do, but, honestly, I didn't spend more than two hours writing it. Though it reads like I spent fifteen minutes writing it.

Marcia Macomber said...

Nice on the "Modern Major General"! I think you've found new material for a lyrics re-write!

Please, no more blotting out the sun in Sonoma!

Francly Speaking said...

Ron, that was better than a birdie on a Par 3... thanks for the continued insight.. or fore-sight!

Bella Vino said... really helped to read your comments explaining your motivation, cuz I know Raj, and am sorry you chose his last name & reputation to make your point. Yes, yes, I wasn't really about him, but it was...otherwise you would have made up a name and done a composite of all the Somms you distain. That would have been just as funny, and would leave your readers guessing as to who you were writing about. Are there any Somms you do like? (And just so all your readers are clear, Raj isn't a Master Sommelier.) Perhaps you would serve your readers better by steering them towards Somms that are really really good at what they do on the floor. Raj isn't on the floor anymore, so maybe you should go to RN-74 in SF & Seattle & write about the Somms he hires. Are they just as snobby as you claim he is? You are an entertaining writer, & I enjoy a lot of what you write about. You could use your talent to inform your readers in a positive manner. Raj is laughing all the way to the bank, and brushing you off like an annoying fly. While you reinforce your readers with a stereotype of an image I have worked 30 years to dispel. We are not all like your mythical Parr Bunyan.

Charlie Olken said...

I remember Jack Barr. I think he had bunnions.

I get why this essay cuts too close to bone. It is tough as nails, and it goes after the nasty side of the sommelier trade.

Note to Bella Vino. Perhaps you should read Ron's resume on the home page of his blog. He does have a modicum of experience with the silverplated tastevin.

I wonder, however, how much of this harpooning of Mr. Bunyan is inspired by the IHOP meeting Ron attended not so long ago, at which Raj and Jon Bonne basically told the world how to think.

In person, Raj does not come across that way, but his performance there (go see the video of the discussions) and that of Mr.Bonneyan were straight out of the "I know the way" school of wine criticism.

None of us have any objection to any point view, but it does take a larger than life view of oneself to proclaim that there is only true way to make wine. I wonder how much of this blog is inspired by that kind of performance.

Finally, comedy, even when it bites hard, is still comedy. Sometimes it consists of laugh out loud lines, and sometimes it consists of pointed parody.

Raj Parr is a real person. Parr Bunyan is fiction. The tone of the blog has made people squeamish, even upset, but it is intentional exaggeration. Let's do remember that.

Dean Tudor said...

Well, Wikipedia does have a mention of "McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters" from the 17th century, a bit beyond Old Parr's time.....

Unknown said...

You forgot to mention that Parr Bunyan can make wine without even actually make wine!

True Story:
the best wine I ever drank was poured for me by Raj Parr. I was working as a bartender at an sf restaurant, and a bunch of fancy wine people set up shop at one of the tables. He came behind the bar to pour me a glass of '76 Krug. A really classy move on his part, and he seemed like a genuinely nice guy.

The legend of Parr Bunyan lives on...

Thomas said...

I believe the sommelier profession was invented so that satire could survive.

Viva Jack Parr. Now there's a guy who could talk your ears off without once noticing that you have ears, or even a body--and still be funny.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Bella Vino,
First of all, let's start from the position that no one cares what I write or think. Second of all, let's remember that you're posting anonymously, and I am not. And, thirdly, satire doesn't have any sacred cows. Finally, if he's laughing all the way to the bank, which I don't doubt, what's the big deal? Laugh or don't laugh, Raj Parr means nothing to me, or, actually, to the wine business in general.

I'm also not here to "serve my readers." I served customers for a long time, and was content with the job I did. As you should be. Here, I'm just having some fun. If Raj Parr wants to be "somebody" then he has to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous bloggers.

Mr. Parr may not be arrogant in person, many people who claim to have the answers are not arrogant in person, but, frankly, I don't care. I make fun of lots of folks, including myself, should I exclude Saint Raj? Nice of you to defend him, but, like it or not, his mission to educate the rest of us about wine may seem idealistic, but it's really arrogant.

But, truthfully, I wrote the piece as an exaggerated tall tale. The rest of the baggage you brought with you.

Satire is useless without an edge. I know you know that. I like it when people say, "Ouch."

It was actually inspired by the fairly recent cult of sommeliers as cultural heroes. I know most of those "celebrity" sommeliers, and, well, most of them spend way too much time believing their own press. Hence, this post. "Larry Bunyan" might have worked, "Bobby" Bunyan might have worked, I liked the sound of "Parr" Bunyan.

Yeah, some band stole my name. Not sure what a "watchful" Hosemaster is, but, hey, I do what I can.

There has been lots of great press for Sandhi wines, but Sashi, I understand, doesn't make the wines any more. So we'll see. Honestly, I tasted them, and was unimpressed. But I'm no Jon Bonne.

I loved Jack Paar, I kid you not. Grew up wishing I could be that engaging a conversationalist. Paar was, at a young age, one of my heroes.

Samantha Dugan said...

Ron My Love,
Okay so I've been biting my tongue because I know how you get when it looks like I'm Mighty Mouseing or in any way attempting to come to your defense but, well I'm tired, I'm cranky and and this here derision is mixing with the bloody iron taste in my mouth and I've grown irritated with it. Wow, now that I sound like a proper cunt I might as well continue...

As a long time member of this here Peanut Gallery I would like to welcome you new comers. I encourage you to actually look at the authors credentials and marinate in the fact that the blog, the very popular and brilliantly written blog, you are reading is in fact written by a man that is both a satirical comedian and someone that had freaking earned his chops in this whole wine bid-niz. I would now like to ask that anyone with crunders crunched tightly up their ass, to pull them out and take a deep,refreshing breath. I know I always feel better after removing a deep wedging, I sincerely hope that you do too. And we're breathing...

As a crusty old timer round these parts I find myself in this really awkward position of laughing at Ron's hard fought and painfully skilled humor and the cringe I know with which many read these words and aren't sure what to make of them. Here's a tip, if you are cringing, you might be taking this all too seriously and it if precisely for you that The HoseMaster was created. It's wine. Lets not forget that and anyone that feels the need to defend their position as anti this or pro that is missing the point. Of wine and these fantastically playful but stinging posts.

If a member of our little world gets picked out and satirized here that means that person is in fact a notable and somewhat important figure. Cringing is allowed but lets keep things in perspective maybe? I used to naively beg to be "done" by The HoseMaster but after years of reading him...I changed my mind. He could nail me without so much as removing his sleep goggles. Reading here has taught me how to shake my head at the rhetoric and how to laugh at myself, ourselves. I'm a better person and a more rounded wine professional for thank you Ron.

I stumbled across this weird blog like five years ago. Something about bloggers showing their bar codes and this undefinable but compelling voice spoke to me from that first post and much like that first time I commented there, I feel like I am sticking my head in the lion's mouth. Forgive me. I just love you and what it is you are doing, for all of us here, so I had to open my fat trap.

And now I'm backing out...

Samantha Dugan said...

Dammit...forget to hit the "Hit me up with return comments" button. Ignore me. Did I mention I love you?

GirlMeetsGrape said...

HMW, I miss you! Serendipitously, I returned to your blog after too long a hiatus to find this BRILLIANT post. Speaking as someone who was once called, unironically, the "Vanna White of Wine" (damn those wasted years of Harvard loan repayments!), we can all expect to be lampooned once in a while in this odiously unfunny business of self-important people. Raj is about as snooty as I am vacant, for the record; satire doesn't care and neither do we. Blog on, my friend. xoxo, BG
PS-The Jancis line slew me. Hysterical.

Thomas said...


"If a member of our little world gets picked out and satirized here that means that person is in fact a notable and somewhat important figure."

With that, you burst my whole life bubble--His HoseMaster has never lampooned me. Now if he chooses to do so, it will appear like capitulation.

I am done; finished; washed up. Where's that high alcohol, low acid Pinot Noir that tastes like Syrah? I need to get Velcorined to death.


Jack Parr was among my heroes too. I will never forget after he walked off the set and was away for some time his opening line the night that his show returned: " I was saying..."

Samantha Dugan said...

He hasn't lampooned you?! You mean those months and months he went without posting were really hiatuses?! All this time I thought he nailed you! Shows how blonde I am...

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,
Thank you for your eloquent defense. But no matter how I might respond to folks like Bella Vino, I'm encouraged that they feel comfortable expressing their contrary points of view here. I'm not above criticism, and I'm not about to delete any comments that contradict me, question me, or flatout insult me (though there is always a line an anonymous commenter might cross, it has only happened maybe once in five years). And, as a satirist, if you dish it out, you have to take it.

My "credentials" are old and dusty, much like me. I don't even know where I put them.

I met Adam Lechmere Wednesday night. He's the former editor of, and a charming guy. He's attending the Napa Valley Wine Writers' Symposium (sweet memories there, Love) and wanted to meet the HoseMaster. God knows why. In our conversation, he mentioned how at one of the forums everyone was lamenting that there isn't enough humor in wine writing. I've heard this lament the entire 35 years I've been in the biz. It's just talk. No one actually wants it, not Decanter, not Wine Spectator, nor Wine Enthusiast, and especially not the Napa Valley Wine Writers Symposium. I started HoseMaster just so I wouldn't be one more nitwit complaining about there being no humor in the wine writing world.

And the best thing about the blog, I think, is the Peanut Gallery of immensely talented wine people who gather here for cheap laughs. And I love the phrase "Mighty Mousing." And you.

I am so happy to see you here! I miss you, too! Recently, I was thinking about that wine judging we did in Paso Robles many moons ago, not sure why I was thinking about it, and that made me recall our car trip together. You certainly made that a fun trip. Several hours in your company is a genuine pleasure.

"Vanna White?!" Wow. That's just incredibly emptyheaded journalism. I don't know many smarter, more wine knowledgeable people than you, Bonnie. So, of course, they focus on how beautiful you are. I laughed out loud when I saw that quote. Tell me it wasn't in the LA Times.

And thank you for the kind words and the encouragement. There are endless days when I no longer want to "blog on," but the support I find here keeps me going.

xoxo to you, too, BG.

Early on, after toying with the idea, I decided against satirizing the friends I'd made here. I think after I wrote the Alice Feiring piece, and the shit really hit the fan, I knew that, even if I did lampoon you, or Samantha, or Charlie, I'd pull my punches. And that's not how I like to work.

But you'd be easy, and Samantha would be too. I've stopped doing parodies of bloggers, for the most part, because we don't matter. And the comedy is in how, deep down, we think we do.

Unknown said...

Dear Hosemaster,
I am writing to you from the emergency room where doctors are trying to alleviate the pain I have in my ribs from laughing so much after reading yet another satirical masterpiece of yours.
I enjoyed your reply to Bella Vino even more.
This business (dare I say this society) needs less Bella Vino stiffs and more flexible Hosemasters...
Keep it coming.

Bella Vino said...

Honored that you responded to me….happy to own “my baggage”. As for the anonymous posting…let’s just say that I am still on the floor at 58. I absolutely love what I do, and have no plans to stop. The piece was very funny. Thanks for setting me straight on your purpose, which is neither to serve nor to educate, but to entertain….which I was. Yes, of course, the higher you are on the ladder, the bigger a target you are to receive slings and arrows. And you are right, anyone who reaches the top of the ladder, and can’t take a dig has some soul searching to do. I receive your blog in my mail box and read every one, & you are good at what you do. I respect your credentials. I guess I didn’t make clear my issue, which is that Raj hasn’t been on the floor in several years, so is he really a Somm anymore? Is Bobby (Stucky?) on the floor anymore? Fred Dame? Drew Hendricks? Alpana Singh? Andréa Robinson? Ian Cauble? Jimmy Hayes? At least Larry worked the floor recently to finish out Charlie Trotters. Many Somms receive some sort credentials to the title, and then stop doing it. (That’s why I asked you if you had been to RN-74 in SF or Seattle. How involved is Raj with the wine staff in the restaurants?) But Parr Bunyan, The Greatest Wine Consultant Who Ever Lived, just doesn’t have the same ring does it? And, in the end, it may be that we just have different definitions of what constitutes a Sommelier. I can live with that. Carry on….I am still a fan.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

no wine for you,
I'm not convinced the world needs more like me, but thanks for the kind words. Who said, "Laughter is the best medicine?" Some shitty doctor, I'd assume.

Bella Vino,
No need to be honored that I responded to you, I'm honored that you took the trouble to comment. I'm not sure why being on the floor requires anonymity here, but as you wish.

You bring up an interesting point. I tend to think, once a sommelier, always a sommelier. We die with our tastevins on. But for the purposes of satire, a satire of the profession, I had to pick some kind of name that resonates. To your point, what sommelier that still works the floor would have worked? I can't think of one. It is interesting, though, to wonder if anyone would have leaped to Stuckey's defense, or Stone's. I doubt it.

Thank you for reading, Bella, and for thoughtfully commenting. I have a healthy respect for sommeliers, the ones who work the floor, I know how hard it is to be a good one. My lampooning of the trade is meant to play upon the outdated, often ignorant, stereotype of sommeliers. I hope that coming from a retired sommelier, my razzing carries a bit of authority.

Anonymous said...

IMHO, one of your funniest ever. The Jancis Robinson line alone is immortal. Somehow the whole thing reminded me of a Hello-Dali. If only you could have combined Scarlett Johannsen and tongue in cheek.....

Thomas said...


So, I'm easy eh! Maybe that's why I always got the girls.

I recently saw myself in a prostate cancer documentary--the take away for me was how easy I'd be to lampoon, what with my Brooklyn attitude couched in intellectualism; it's too funny for me to watch.


Good one. I think I'll stop blogging again, just to keep you happy.

Generally, this blog is the only place where the wine discussion is allowed to be irreverent--or even irrelevant--and that is a good thing.

Someone should do a research study on the motivation of lurkers that follow a blog for quite awhile and when something pops up that raises their hackles, they pounce--never to be heard from again. What's up with that?

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Thanks, George,
I'll put Parr Bunyan in the rerun pile for 2015. The Jancis line seems to be the favorite. I never know when I write which line will be the favorite--it's always a big surprise for me.

Oh, man, it's painful to watch yourself on TV or film. I can't watch my old game show tapes, or even the YouTube thing Andy Perdue did with me a couple of years ago. There's some old guy that looks like me talking in a strange voice, like a badly dubbed spaghetti Western. Plus, he's stupid.

I should post the comments when I do Best of HoseMaster. There are a few who are still here commenting, but most have vanished--either lurking or gone on to get a real life. It is strange, but, in truth, lots of folks just don't have much to say, except once in a while. They're yin to my yang. I never shut up.

Cris Whetstone said...

Well done. You know you hit the mark when a spirited defense of your target is made by pointing out bank rolls and ladder rungs. Anyone who decides what wine to serve at his restaurants by a single number on a wine label put there for the purposes of taxes deserves to be lampooned...if you should ever take up the cause instead of this here fictional character. Keep it up.

Bella Vino said...

Charlie O. thanks for your comments and insight. I am sure Ron was a superb Somm back in the day.

no wine for you....really? stiff? dude, I am the life of the party...I thought the piece was very funny. But there is only one Bella Vino, so the world can't have any more...there now, aren't you relieved?

Chris W. You assume a lot....A)I told Raj 5 years ago that his obsession about Alc. %'s was dumb. B)I have never commented before because I live in the country and until recently, was unable to get either DSL or Satellite. Dial-up sux, and commenting on boards like this took too long. C)Slings and arrows are ok, but ladders and bank rolls not...ok, got it. D) Wasn't defending Raj, (hey I know the guy, we aren't BFF's), I was bitching about calling Somms, Somms, when they aren't Somms anymore.

But Ron, I guess that was maybe the point now wasn't it? Thanks for teaching me something. Celeb Somms...what a racket! :) I prefer waiting on the unwashed masses, the rubes, and old, I love waiting on old folks! I appreciated your honesty, and hope you won't disdain me should we ever meet.

Thomas said...

Bella Vino:

Define "old people," and defend your definition.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

It's hard to hit the mark when I don't even know what I'm aiming at. So it's actually simple blind luck. One thing I've learned over the course of writing this dimwit blog is that I NEVER know what piece is going to cause a big reaction. That's the fun of it, I'm beginning to see. This piece brought out my old friends Tom Hunter (great guy) and Bonnie Graves (wonderful and supremely talented woman), for which I'm grateful. And now Bella Vino has added a voice that I like. And you're hanging around more. Writing is solitary and painful work--don't think I would do it without all the folks who congregate here in the comments section.

Bella Vino,
First of all, don't respond to the old crotchety guys around here. They're old and they know it. I include myself in that description.

Should we ever meet you'll have the upper hand, since you know my name. I do hope we meet, though it seems unlikely. I'm sure we'd have a LOT of interesting stories to share about wine and working the floor as a sommelier. One of the great things about writing HoseMaster has been meeting many of the folks you find here. It's a great, and smart, group of people. Why they hang around here is anybody's guess.

I doubt I would "disdain" you, Bella Vino. I say this about every five posts, but I'm not the HoseMaster. The HoseMaster is a Voice, a character, someone who has lived in my head for decades. I don't even like him much. So you'd be meeting me, not the HoseMaster. He's far more entertaining, but I'm nicer. Not a high bar to get over.

Tom Hunter said...

Hi Ron, I don't want the one comment I've ever left after reading one of your posts being one that sounds like I don't think your writing is funny and great. It is and I always enjoy reading them. In the big picture I don't find what you're saying off base, and there are some hysterical lines. I just have a problem with your chosen target (or what almost every person in the wine community would think was your target). Hence the comment that I doubt you knew him. And come on, saying if you wanted to insult Raj Parr you'd just use his name... you did! Half of it at least.
I listen to Howard every morning - once in a blue moon i have to turn the dial for a few minutes. Still a huge fan.
Great seeing you the other week by the way.

Unknown said...

i think one of the great things about this blog is the ability to rile people up. i know that i've gotten riled up after a few of these blogs. i would say that if you're not offending a few people, then you're probably not saying anything interesting, and definitely not saying anything funny.

as for sandhi losing its winemaker, i wonder how this will effect the legend of parr bunyon? it will be tough to climb in and out of tanks with that giant head

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Inspiration and ideas come from all over the place, and once you grab on to them, they tend to intermingle, get irreparably mixed together. On a conscious level, I didn't mean this to be insulting to Raj Parr, though I don't care if it is, but, as Charlie pointed out, I had just been at the IPOB tasting, where I saw you, and that probably triggered something when I started to write a "Tall Tale." Who knows? I tend to just trust my Voice. The only thing I get out of writing jokes is exploring that weird Voice that lives in me. It's a weird, often disconcerting, gift.

I'm also always open to criticism--though none is harsher than my own. If the piece is funny, I'm content. Rush to the defense of folks I'm lampooning, you'll eventually just get tired and probably never come back. I try to be fair about my unfairness. No sacred cows, no pulling punches. But there are many lines I won't cross, too. The fun is finding out where they are.

I don't mind riling people, but it's not why I do this. The intent is laughter, and when the laughter gets too close to being at YOU, folks get flustered. I think I've ticked off everyone who reads my blog at some point, even my regulars. But it's all in the cause of laughter at all the pretension, foolishness and hubris that surrounds this great business.

And your crack about Parr's giant head in the tanks made me laugh. Thanks for that.

Eric V. Orange said...

Hose, you make me laugh.
But reading the comments is half the fun.


Bella Vino said...

Thomas...anyone I don't even have to think about carding is old...but seriously...Folks in the 60 - 75 age bracket that love wine are a joy to take care of.

Thomas said...

Eric hit the nail on the head: the comments are getting better and better. Soon HoseMaster will become merely the Master of Ceremonies.

Bella Vino: thanks, I now have a fix on your possible age. I remember when we didn't trust anyone over 30--these days, I trust no one under 35.

On the old note, an anecdote: a friend of mine says that when a young man asked him recently on a crowded subway car if he'd like his seat, his response was to consider asking the young man to step outside and see who winds up sitting! Us old guys get touchy...I don't think Charlie will like it that you call him old.

The other thing is that old people who love wine quite possibly could have more experience and knowledge than many young sommelier's are capable of imagining. I face that crap a lot when i dine in so-called upscale restaurants, which is why I limit those outings. If you want my money, you have to treat me as if I am a smart customer, not a dumb old guy.

Anonymous said...

One of the free ham moments in life is when the girl at the theater gives you a discounted ticket, or a senior coffee at McDonald's.

Thomas said...


Both of them are dead now.