Labor Day Weekend is the last gasp of summer, and, I'm sure, a very slow time of year on wine, or any other, blogs. So, guess what?! A damned rerun, that's what. The oxymoronic "Best of HoseMaster." It's a pretty good episode, and I've already removed the commercials so you won't have to fast forward through them.
It's a tribute to Joe Roberts that he's still around and dominating the wine blog world more than three years after I wrote this parody. I'm also fond of this piece because it generated the insult from Ken Payton that I quote in the left hand column under "What the Critics Are Saying." Say, whatever happened to that know-it-all windbag? Despite this silly parody, Joe and I have become friends and mutual admirers. So, here, from April 2010, is 1WineDoody.
It's One Wine Doody time,
It's One Wine Doody time.
If you are new to wine,
You'll like my blog just fine.
It's One Wine Doody time,
It's One Wine Doody time.
I'm just a wine cut-up,
You wish would just shut up.
Hi Boys and Girls! I'm 1WineDoody! You've probably heard of my brother Howdy. Some people have a hard time telling us apart. One of us is small, with a happy grin plastered on his face, a big clown for a sidekick and everything he does is because someone is pulling his strings! The other one used to have a TV show with Buffalo Bob. Welcome to my blog! I'm here to teach all you kids about wine. So many of you think wine is intimidating, that it takes years to understand. Why that's foolish! Look at me! Please, look at me. Down here!
It doesn't take an expert to teach you about wine. Look, I've got a CSW after my name! That's a lot longer than an MS or an MW, a full third longer! And I wrote it on big letters at the top of my blog. I learned this from Safeway. "Certified" is a word that is powerful despite the lack of meaning. You put "Certified" in front of some words and, well, that makes it better. "Certified Angus!" "Certified Public Accountant!" "Certified Wine Specialist!" What do all those things have in common? If I give you the first four letters, kids, can you finish the word? OK, what they have in common starts with B-U-L-L****!
You're going to like it here at 1WineDoody. Everyone does! Certified! 1WineDoody is nice to everybody. If I'm not here praising every wine blogger I meet, well, I'm on other blogs contributing brief little word essays that pay tribute to their wisdom. And I believe in brevity, boys and girls. Everything you need to know about wine is on the surface, just like people. Right there on the surface, like a little layer of scum. And that's what I will teach you about wine, boys and girls, just the stuff you skim off the surface.
OK, here are today's Twitter notes about wines I've received from all my clown friends, all the Clarabeaus and Clarabelles that run winery marketing departments. Notice how at the end I've given every wine a grade! This is so you know what I actually think about the wine because the words probably won't tell you. Other wine bloggers, who are certified talented and really nice people, use the 100 point scale, which you my fans know from being at the lower end of it. Points are too complicated, you have to kind of think hard about them, and I don't want to give just a few points--that's not how 1WineDoody is! So I give grades! You know grades, right, boys and girls? They're like 100 point scores only nicer. I don't know about you, but a "C" was always pretty good as far as I was concerned. "C" is average! And 1WineDoody is nothing if not Certified Average. I'm just a Certified Average Joe. Now on to the notes!
- 08 Geyser Peak Sauvignon Blanc (Sonoma County): If my dog smelled this he'd be looking for a leaky pussy. $12 C+
- 07 Cakebread Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): I played in a band like this once, a lot of noise and drunk girls. $75 B
- 08 Trimbach Pinot Gris (Alsace, Baby, that's right, I drink Alsace): Brought to mind Christopher Cross' "Sailing," only didn't make me seasick. $20 A-
- 05 Jean Milan "Terres des Noel" (Champagne): Can I get you some antibiotics for that yeast infection, Baby? $75 A
- 06 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon (Alexander Valley): If ABBA were a wine, this would be their Dancing Queen. Rare, but easy to find. $60 B-
Isn't it amazing how I can just keep cranking these reviews out? And like I told you, just the surface, kids, just the certified surface. Oh, I know more than I'm showing, I'm humble. I hardly ever mention my musical talents, my gorgeous wife,1WineJudyDoody, or all the letters after my name. And you never hear me talking about how my wine blog friends are really influential--Steve Heimoff and that GoodGrape guy (Good Grape was my favorite flavor of Funny Face drink, along with Loudmouth Lime) and Dr. Vino, who has even more letters after his name than I do! 1WineDoody isn't here to waste your time with information! Oh no, not unless I'm killing a post recycling some publicist's wine event information. Then I go on and on about details.
Nope, boys and girls, 1WineDoody is all about making wine fun! That's why I'm the #1 wine blog around. I'm nice, I write in short sentences and I always assume my boys and girls are just Certified Average and listen to puppets.
You and Joe are friends? He must have a sense of humor.
Oh and I can't believe I got this freebie.. and oh what an honor it was to sit on this panel and oh what delight it was to suck down this freebie.. oh oh oh no!.. I just lost my lunch...
OK, we're not actually friends. I was just name-dropping.
Yeah, he indulges a bit too much in that kind of talk, to be sure. Some would say I don't indulge in that sort of talk enough.
This piece was from a stretch of HoseMaster where I lampooned a bunch of the "big shot" wine bloggers, from Vornography to STEVE! to Sermontation to Ms. Feiring. What's interesting is that, as far as I can tell, no new wine bloggers have emerged that have the reach of those guys. At least none that I'm aware of, and, admittedly, I spend almost no time reading wine blogs. Does anyone even remember who won the Poodle for Best New Wine Blog?
Also, I was not in any kind of comedy writing shape back then. I think this piece shows that.
For the past few years, I've focused on the more famous mainstream media wine critics as a source of material. I've learned that insulting bloggers only makes them infamous, gets them more traffic and notoriety, and I want to avoid that.
Either you have used those words knowing I would want to know the context or just to piss me off.
I hate it when Faux News or pre-Pubic Broadcasting reporters use those words incorrectly. Hate it, but you knew that.
I think I did use those words incorrectly just to see if you were still out there, piss you off enough to get you to emerge from your Cone of Silence. Then, again, I also don't spend enough time writing and editing my own comments.
What I wanted to write was, "I've learned that insulting bloggers only makes them famous, adds to their traffic and credibility, and I want to avoid that." I think that's more better.
Many thanks for being the reincarnation of my late mother, the English teacher. Even the beard looks familiar.
Aha! I really thought you meant to say the opposite, which would have been facetiously funny, but only to us pedants.
Do you think anyone is still reading the comments at this time?
Reading the comments? They're not even reading the blog!
Not gonna lie, I thought this was kinda mean. The disclaimer at the beginning makes it much easier to digest, but the older pieces seem to be a lot edgier.
Honest question: Do you feel like your opinion of wine bloggers has changed over your years of writing as the Hosemaster character? It seems like your "What am I Reading" posts are as just as sarcastic and funny, but with a lot less venom.
Sorry if I am being too critical, I obviously love your blog. Just curious to hear your opinion of how wine blogs - including your own - have changed since the "Best of Hosemaster" days
HMW - thanks for re-honoring me. It's like the hmw version of sloppy seconds!
Gabe - Ron made it clear to me before this originally ran that he didn't directly satirize those he thought had no talent. I loved this, edginess and all, laughed my ass of at it the first time, and re-reading it this week helped take some of the emotional edge off of this terrible building disk/sciatica crap that's been painfully terrorizing my life the last few months. I guess if the target doesn't think it's too mean, then it might not make too much sense for other readers to think that. If anything, this got Ron and I on the day track to mutual bro-mance, only with less kissing.
Personally, I think the new intro makes it way less funny... It softens the ageold human need to want to destroy...:-)
Have you had your legs checked? Seriously.
After years of suffering back pains, and being told it was because of this and because of that, a physical therapist noticed that my right shoulder was slightly lower than my left. Turned out that my right leg is slightly shorter than my left.
Years of walking with the imbalance caused permanent damage, but a simple heal lift in my right shoe has taken away most of the pain--less than a quarter inch.
Two regrets: that it was not caught earlier, and that the draft board didn't discover it.
Sorry, Ron, for using this stellar blog as an online group for pain sufferers.
"Edgier" is about where you're sitting more than it is about the work. It's a subjective view. I don't sit down to write and think, I need to be edgy, or mean, or silly, for that matter. Every piece is about tone, and the tone is usually dictated by whatever point I'm trying to make, if there is a point.
Has my opinion of wine bloggers changed over the years? No. I still believe that the major problem with wine blogging is the astonishing absence of talent and interesting voices. Of the hundreds and hundreds of wine blogs, it seems to me that only ten or so exhibit any actual gift for language and original thought. The rest are dreary, or blatantly stupid. Early on, I spent a lot of time making fun of those untalented folks, calling them Poodles and insulting many of them specifically. But I got bored with doing that.
Also, as I mentioned to David, back in the early days of the blog, I was still getting my timing down, my sense of comedy, my HoseMaster voice. I hadn't exercised it much in thirty years. When I read the old pieces, which I only do when searching for a Best of HoseMaster, it takes all my willpower not to edit them. They drive me nuts with how lousy they are. To my own ear, my work has steadily improved as I've stuck with it. And, honestly, it's my own ear that I care about. I do this for my own enjoyment.
So, Gabe, to you the Molesworth post wasn't rough? The Aimee Semple McFeiring piece wasn't mean? They were meant to be satire. Sometimes the closer you are to the truth, the less mean it seems.
Thanks for reading, Gabe, and for the interesting question.
I'm thinkin' that disk thing comes from riding on airplanes so much when you take all those junkets.
At some point, as HoseMaster of Wine became more well-known, I realized that if I was going to parody wine bloggers, I had to go after the top wine bloggers. People were often asking me to "go after" them. It became a mark of having arrived, or something, if the HoseMaster insulted you. Stupid, but all too true, although only in this circle jerk world of wine blogs. So I'd go after folks I actually liked and read, like you and STEVE! and Tom Wark.
Now, I, also, consciously don't mention a lot of bloggers I don't like personally. Though I'd like to, I simply don't. I have enough anger management issues.
The intro is really, for me, a disclaimer. Sort of like saying this post is long past its expiration date, and that's why it smells.
Before you got the lift, did you walk around in big circles? I had a three-legged turtle like that once.
This was the line that cracked me up
(and I needed cracking!)
"08 Geyser Peak Sauvignon Blanc (Sonoma County): If my dog smelled this he'd be looking for a leaky pussy. $12 C+"
When I discuss Kiwi Sauv Blanc with my university wine students, I mention "pipi du chat" which always gets a yuck. Your line is funnier!
I once wrote about Geyser Peak SB that is smelled like a blend of 75% Sauvignon Blanc and 25% Visine. I got an interesting letter from their marketing person (fucking Google Alert), which fried my grits. So, as I recall, I took the 1WineDoody opportunity to mess with Geyser Peak again.
Glad if I made you smile when you needed it.
The smell of many Sauvignon Blancs (or is that Sauvignons Blanc) reminds me of boxwood, which reminds me of drenched cat litter.
Does Marlene teach her class in French?
Moi, walking in circles? Do you mean literally?
Thanks for taking the time to answer that question. For some reason, these "Best of" pieces - the two that come to mine are this one and the Vornography one - do seem a little more harsh than the ones about McFiering or Molesworth. Maybe it is like you said, that the newer pieces are funnier, and the spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. Maybe living in Portland has made me soft. But I would say that the quality of wine blogs in my world seems to have gotten much better over the past few years, and it seems like even the Hosemaster character is a reflection on that. Just my two cents. Thanks for writing such good stuff
Vornography and 1WineDoody are parodies, the Alice and Molesworth pieces are satire. Very different approach for each style. Satire works via an outrageous premise, while parody relies on mocking. However, if each piece makes you laugh, or cringe, or takes you away from your wretched life for a few minutes to smile, then that's all I set out to do.
I suspect that wine blogs aren't getting better, Gabe, but that you're pickier about which ones your read. Go to a mediocre wine blog, click on all the links to other blogs, and then tell me they're getting better.
On a day to day basis, the wine you drink gets better too. Only because you quickly learn what to avoid. Doesn't mean there's less crappy wine in the world. It means you've wised up.
You can talk the talk in circles, one would assume you could walk the walk similarly.
I think Marlene teaches her class in Irvine. Another strange language.
Cat pee and leaky pussy are two different smells, right Sam?
Not sure why my full signature didn't post, but that was me keeping it classy-
Chris / "Knurd
Whoa, we're getting deep into comedy now. Parody vs. Satire. I think you've officially gone over my head.
You did touch upon something my friend Eva calls "the self-selective nature of blogs". Yes, there is obviously tons of crap out there. And there are a couple popular ones that I really hate. But if I can put together five blogs that regularly give me more content (and better content) than what I get from the Wine Spectator - and do it for free - then I think that says something about the quality of wine writing on the internet.
Keep expecting quality for free and you'll find yourself having to lower your standards of quality because, just like good winemakers, good writers have mortgages to pay.
Thomas- a lack of writing talent does not correlate to a lack of mortgage payment. I think the message is to pay what you are willing to pay for the quality.
Ron likes to think that we have lowered standards for reading his blog, but there is a reason we fill out his comments section every week (or when we get the chance).
He might argue we never had standards in the first place, but would we pay Ron to write his blog posts?
Would we pay Ron to NOT write his blog posts?
Chris / 'Knurd
Wine Spectator is a lifestyle magazine with wine reviews, and lots of them. Its target audience is obvious by its advertisements. And I'm pretty sure that doesn't include you or me. This isn't a criticism of Wine Spectator, just simple observation.
So your point is that particular wine blogs have gotten better. I won't argue with that. Wine blogs as a category have not. That's my point.
Though now I'm curious which popular blogs you hate, aside from the obvious one you're reading now.
I'd be lying if I said that I wouldn't want to get paid to do this. There was a time in my life I got paid quite well to do this. The one good thing about not getting paid is that I can walk away when I want without any kind of guilt. That's freedom I appreciate. And use quite a bit.
As much as I adore my common taters, I really do just write this crap for the exercise and enjoyment it brings me, for the clarity that writing brings to my thoughts and opinions about wine and the wine business. It's not a springboard to fame for me, or a way to get lots of free wine, or attract phony admiration. I'm something of a recluse, and don't enjoy the limelight at all. Do I think people lower their standards by reading HoseMaster of Wine? No. For the most part, people have pretty low standards to begin with.
Getting paid not to write? There's a concept. A lifetime subscription to nothing for only $20! I think I bought a couple of those from some kids in college once.
You are correct: many who write for free pay the mortgage through their day jobs. That's fine as a vehicle for opinionated self-expression (and for self-promotion).
Thus far, however, what people online are willing to pay for trained, skilled, and talented writers is overall disappointing (there are exceptions). Like any, writing is a labor market...minimum wage won;t cut it for long.
Who put the ; next to the ' ?
you make a good point. that must be why wine writers buy the wines they review, instead of waiting for free samples ;-) all sarcasm aside, i am happy to buy good wine writing, although i usually do so in book form. my point was that i can get better short-form topical wine writing from blogs than i can from magazines. The fact that it's free is just an added bonus.
You also make a good point. It might not be that wine blogs are better than wine magazines, it's just that I fall into the blog writers demographic. Still, if everyone is interested in courting "millennials", than you have to wonder who is winning that race.
As for blogs I hate...well...I'm too polite to mention anyone by name. But when it comes to hating your blog, I believe my original comment was that I hate some of the POPULAR wine blogs, so I don't understand why that would be relevant 8-)
Every luxury business courts whatever generation comes along next. There used to be nothing but talk about Baby Boomers too, though we were lucky and didn't have the Internet to make us feel important. Your twenty years will be up one day, and the biz will go after your kids.
Who do Millennials read for wine recommendations? Whoever reviews cheap stuff. Each other, mostly, it seems. They sure as hell don't read HoseMaster. My crowd skews strongly to "Mausoleum."
Get this stone off my head...
Regarding . . .
"if I can put together five blogs that regularly give me more content (and better content) than what I get from the Wine Spectator - and do it for free - ..."
. . . I am reminded what futurist Stewart Brand said, “Information wants to be free.”
(“Free” online content has been with us since the dawn of Web browsers.)
Less well understood or appeciated is the second part of Brand’s aphorism. The technology enthusiast also said: “Information wants to be expensive.”
Chris Anderson, the editor of Wired magazine, observes in his recent book titled “Free: The Future of Radical Price” why free is an increasingly compelling business model.
Quoting Jeremy Philips in his book review of “Free” for The Wall Street Journal:
“Advertising is plainly the best known free model. ... As Mr. Anderson notes, though, advertising can't pay for everything online. If you have a blog, 'no matter how popular,' the revenue from AdSense -- a Google service that places ads on Web sites -- will probably never 'pay you even minimum wage for the time you spend writing it.'
“Of course, that's fine for bloggers more interested in fame or influence than in money or for blogs (like Mr. Anderson's own) that are loss leaders for more lucrative endeavors, such as writing books or making speeches. But if you have to earn a living from the Web, 'free' can be a problem. . . .”
Gabe, what funding source would pay for all those wonderful, in-depth articles you wish to read for free?
Good journalism is expensive.
If you wish those (say) five wine blogs to be editorially independent, that means forgoing press junkets and paying their own way to the wine country. Forgoing review samples and buying their own bottles.
I don’t know of any blogs that generate sufficient revenue – from subscriptions and online advertising – to do that.
I am equally reminded of this anecdote (quoting executive compensation executive Ira Kay -- also in The Journal):
“It's said that a tourist once spotted Pablo Picasso sketching in a Paris cafe and asked if he would sketch her, offering to pay him fair value. In a matter of minutes, Picasso was finished. When she asked what she owed him, Picasso told her 5,000 francs.
“ ‘But it only took you a few minutes,’ the tourist said.
“ ‘No,’ said Picasso, ‘it took me all my life.’ “
In our knowledge-based economy, labor is really a form of capital. Wine writers create value based not just on some unit of labor (such as “penning” a wine column), but on their entire store of knowledge and experience -- their human capital.
Gabe, a contribution to your enlightenment and edification worth paying for.
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